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Party-switching GOP lawmaker slams voting rights bill he co-sponsored 2 years ago

In 2019, Jeff Van Drew said H.R. 1 would ‘restore our democracy.’ Two years later, he’s slamming it as ‘socialism … served on a platter.’

By Emily Singer - March 03, 2021
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Rep. Jeff Van Drew

Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) completely flip-flopped on support for H.R. 1, a sweeping pro-democracy bill that seeks to make it easier to vote, as well as looks to weaken the power of money in politics, among other provisions.

The bill — titled the For the People Act — is slated to come up for a vote on Wednesday. It seeks to require states to implement automatic voter registration for federal elections and give everyone the opportunity to vote absentee if they wish, limits states from purging the rolls of legitimately registered voters, and restores voting rights to people who have completed their felony sentences.

A nearly identical bill passed the House almost exactly two years ago in March 2019. Van Drew, then a Democrat, not only voted for the bill but was a co-sponsor of it, saying the legislation would “clean up corruption in Washington, restore our democracy, and promote bipartisanship.”

Now, Democrats have put the bill up for a vote again, as then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked it from receiving a vote in the Senate in the last Congress.

And Van Drew — who has since switched to being a Republican — no longer supports it.

He said of the bill in a speech on the House floor Wednesday morning, “We were warned for years about the rise of socialism. Well, Madam Speaker, here it is, served on a platter.”

It’s not the first issue Van Drew has completely flipped since he left the Democratic Party and joined the GOP in 2019 — a move he made over his opposition to impeaching Donald Trump.

In May 2019, Van Drew also voted in support of the Equality Act, a landmark civil rights bill that protects LGBTQ people from discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

Like H.R. 1, Van Drew was also a co-sponsor of the legislation.

“All Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, must be treated equally under the law,” Van Drew said of the Equality Act and his support for it back in 2019.

Again, as with H.R. 1, McConnell refused to put the Equality Act up for a vote in the last Congress — so Democrats reintroduced it this year and passed it last week.

Van Drew voted against it, an about-face he was slammed for by New Jersey LGBTQ advocates.

“Something changed. It wasn’t the bill — which has been introduced every session since 2015 — it was the congressman,” Christian Oliveira, a former director of communications and membership at the LGBTQ rights group Garden State Equality, wrote in an op-ed in the New Jersey Globe. “When the votes were counted, Rep. Van Drew changed his position. He abandoned the LGBTQ community, and he voted against an identical bill.”

And it’s not just policy Van Drew completely changed his mind on after switching parties.

In early 2019, after fellow New Jerseyan Cory Booker announced his bid for president, Van Drew endorsed him.

“I am proud to endorse Senator Booker’s bid for the presidency,” Van Drew said. “While he and I don’t agree on every issue, he has shown time and again that he’s relentlessly focused on building bridges and working together to get things done for the people of New Jersey, and for every American.”

Yet after switching parties, Van Drew endorsed Trump and pledged his “undying support” for the twice-impeached GOP leader. It’s a whiplash-inducing change, given Trump had demonized Booker as someone who would destroy the suburbs. Booker called Trump’s attack racist.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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