U.S. Representative Jake Auchincloss Explains His Bipartisan Limits

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/04/27/u-s-representative-jake-auchincloss-explains-his-bipartisan-limits/

Should Democrats and Republicans work together to get things done in Congress?

For U.S. Representative Jake Auchincloss (D-Newton), that depends.

Auchincloss spoke about his governing philosophy in a WCVB On The Record segment on Sunday this week. In it, he revealed that there are individuals he won’t work with and certain issues where he has no interest in negotiating — including gun control legislation.

Auchincloss said in the interview that he thinks Republicans act in bad faith when it comes to gun legislation.

“You know, there are some issues in this country where I want to roll up my sleeves and work in a bipartisan fashion:  infrastructure, foreign policy,” he said. “And then there are some issues where I no longer have confidence that we are in good faith negotiations with the Republican Party and unfortunately, gun violence is one of them. We need to pass gun violence reforms urgently at the national level. 

“Assault weapon ban, universal background checks, red flag laws,” he added. “These are things that work. They save lives. And if we have to do them on a partisan vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate, so be it because I know that across the country, those are bipartisan pieces of legislation. There’s a difference between unity in the country broadly and unity within the chambers of Congress. We’ve gotta save lives.”

A lack of federal gun control legislation is also one of the many reasons why Auchincloss supports ending the filibuster. Instead, he wants to eliminate the filibuster so that the U.S. Senate can pass more bills with a simple majority rather than three-fifths support. Currently, the Democratic Party has 48 U.S. senators and two independents who caucus with them. However, since the vice president serves as the tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate, Democrats control the majority.

Auchincloss said that he thinks money in politics obfuscates the GOP’s views on gun laws. 

“I think Republicans have had the opportunity to do the right thing for a decade now and they’ve shown that they are beholden to the NRA,” he said. “We are not going to wait for them to realize that common-sense gun safety, gun safety legislation with 90 percent approval ratings throughout the country, is the right thing to do. We’re gonna pass that, but we’ve gotta get rid of the filibuster to do it.”

Other issues that Auchincloss listed as being important reasons for eliminating the filibuster include his support for policing reform, immigration, and homosexuality-affirming policies.

Auchincloss told the interviewers that he thought Democrats could eliminate the filibuster.

“I absolutely do. It requires political courage in the Senate without question, but we have been called to govern in the midst of crisis and to govern for transformational change,” he said, “The filibuster is an obstruction to that and it is not Constitutionally sacrosanct. We’re not talking about an idea that came from the pen of James Madison here. We’re talking about an obscure maneuver of the 19th century that was turned in the 20th century into a tactic to block critical civil rights legislation.”

Most members of the U.S. Senate oppose eliminating the filibuster. No Republican senators support the idea and Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), and Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) have stated this year that they want to preserve the filibuster.

Additionally, Auchincloss set another limit on his bipartisanship. The litmus test:  did the Republican in question vote to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election? That was not most of them in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Most Republicans in the U.S. House did not. At the time that Congress voted to certify the election results, Republicans had 221 representatives and a House majority. In all, 139 of those Republicans voted against certifying the election results, according to Reuters.

“I don’t like litmus tests in politics, but insurrection against the U.S. government qualifies,” Auchincloss said. “I am sent to Capitol Hill by my constituents to represent their values and to advance their priorities. Now, to advance their priorities on issues like foreign policy, the U.S.-Israel relationship, and climate change, and foreign policy and jobs and infrastructure, I should need to work with Republicans. But to represent their values I will not work with Republicans who do not recognize that Joe Biden was the legitimate winner of a fair and free election.”