Robert Dold Consistently Votes With His Party When It Matters

By Steve Sheffey

Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) consistently votes with his party. In his first term in Congress, he voted Republican more than four out of every five votes. Former Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL) was correct when he said that Dold voted with the Republicans on all the key votes of his first term.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who should know, recently listed Dold as one of the “strong conservatives” his PAC is supporting in the 2016 election. (Read more from Tenth Dems and Progress Illinois.)

Yet Dold keeps coming up with statistics showing that he is one of the most independent members of Congress. Those statistics are accurate. So how do we reconcile the fact that Dold nearly always votes with his party on important votes with the fact that Dold votes less with his party than most members of Congress?

The obvious answer is that party independence is a thing of the past. No member of Congress is really independent, but given that they all vote the party line most of the time, Dold just votes the party line a bit less than most of his colleagues. Most people would consider someone who is 6’4″ to be tall, and 6’4″ is tall, but not in comparison to NBA centers.

Similarly, most people would consider voting with the Republicans more than 80% of the time not very independent, and it’s not, but it’s less than those who vote with their party 90% of the time. Dold set a very low bar for himself, and he met it.

But there’s more to it than that. Dold has mastered the art of voting against his party on meaningless procedural votes, which gins up his statistics to make him look more independent than he really is. One of the most meaningless votes is to Approve the Journal of the previous day’s proceedings. It always passes and no one cares. But if you want to burnish your “independent” credentials, it’s a great NO vote.

In a display of candor all too rare these days, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) said  “Because a Journal vote is legislatively inconsequential, many Representatives oppose their own party on these votes to improve their independence rating.”

And that’s just what Dold does. It’s been about two months since Dold returned to Congress, and by my count, there have been eight votes on Approving the Journal (they don’t do it every day). A majority of Republicans voted YES every time. Dold voted NO every time. That’s eight (meaningless) votes against his party.

The moral of the story is that we should focus on what our members of Congress vote on, not statistics pretending to tell us how independent or bipartisan they are.

If a bill is a good bill, then I want my representative to vote for it even if everyone else in the party is voting for it. Bipartisanship is not what matters. Voting the right way is what matters.

The merits of a bill have nothing to do with the level of bipartisan support. Huge mistakes like Prohibition and the Vietnam War had overwhelming bipartisan support. Obamacare, now considered a success by all but the most extreme, passed on a party line vote.

To be fair, Dold does not live in the alternate reality universe inhabited by some of his colleagues, such as Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). Like the broken clock that is right twice a day, Dold sometimes does vote correctly. But when it’s headline news that our congressman does the right thing (such as Dold’s immigration vote, which Brad Schneider would have voted as a matter of course), maybe that’s a sign that we need a congressman who can be counted on to vote the right way.

Unfortunately, since returning to Congress, Dold voted to repeal the estate tax (giving a massive tax break to the very wealthiest Americans), voted for an anti-choice abortion bill, voted to weaken Obamacare, and voted to approve the Keystone pipeline (prompting the Sierra Club to state that they were right to endorse Brad Schneider).

Dold was with the Republican majority on all four of those key votes. But don’t worry. He voted against the Republican majority on all eight votes to Approve the Journal.

Join us! Help elect Democrats in our area:

The Tenth Dems blog is intended to be a forum that builds community and provides for respectful and healthy exchange of ideas. We are open to different points of view and hope that all of our readers will feel comfortable engaging in conversation. Opinions expressed on this website belong to their respective authors, and publication does not necessarily imply endorsement by the Tenth Congressional District Democrats. Inappropriate comments may be deleted.