East County News Service
May 21, 2016 (San Diego) -- On Thursday, seven Republican representatives in Congress, including San Diego Congressman Darrell Issa, switched their votes at the last minute, effectively killing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have prevented government contractors from citing religious liberty as grounds for firing or harassing lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGTB) employees.
When the voting clock ran out, the amendment had enough votes to pass with 217 supporting and 206 opposing; but, the Republican leader in the Speaker’s chair held the vote open a few more minutes, and several Republican Congressional members switched their votes, the Hill reported, leading to the amendment’s defeat, 212-213. California representatives Jeff Denham, David Valadao Denham, Mimi Walters, Issa and Valadao all switched their vote during these final minutes, along with three members from other states.
In reaction to the news, Eddie Kurtz, the executive director of the California-based Courage Campaign issued the following statement, condemning their votes as betraying LGBT rights and California values: “Representatives Denham, Walters, Issa and Valadao should be deeply ashamed for lacking the courage to stand up to GOP leaders in the House and switching their vote after the clock ran out to deny LGBTQ people critical employment protections.“This betrayal of the LGBTQ community makes it clear that Denham, Walters, Issa and Valadao are more interested in satisfying Republican Party bosses than standing up for the rights that Californians strongly support. Plainly put -- these are not California’s values.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan has denied leading the effort. Senator Patrick Maloney (D-NY) , author of the amendment, blamed Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for orchestrating the switch and at least one member has said McCarthy approached him in a failed effort to persuade him to change his vote. Those who switched their votes have reportedly declined to state their reasons for doing so.
But Maloney acknowledged that some Republicans stood their ground against party pressure. He indicated "easily a dozen" Republicans approached him on the floor "and expressed disgust for what happened" adding, “"I don't think I've ever seen anything that craven and that ugly in my time in Congress,” the Hill reported.