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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

September 25, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Challenger admits Reichert’s passed bills, says they’re not ‘particularly relevant’

Jason Ritchie, the Democratic challenger to U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert of Auburn, has claimed on his website that Reichert “has not sponsored one piece of legislation that has been passed into law and is on the opposite side of his constituents on almost every issue.”

Whether you think Reichert is on the wrong side of issues depends on your political views. But Ritchie’s claim that Reichert, a five-term congressman, has never gotten a bill passed through Congress and signed into law — that’s not true.

In June, President Obama signed into law Reichert’s bill naming the U.S. Post Office in Eatonville after National Park Ranger Margaret Anderson, who was shot and killed while attempting to stop a fleeing shooting suspect in Mount Rainier National Park in 2012.

While ceremonial, that legislation was important to Reichert as a former law enforcement officer, said Jeff Harvey, a Reichert campaign spokesman.

When it comes to bills on which Reichert is the prime sponsor, a search legislative databases including GovTrack.us show only one other bill besides the post office renaming that passed all the way through Congress and was signed into law: a 2008 law to improve financial compensation to local governments for Homeland Security information sharing. (GovTrack.us also shows 82 bills on which Reichert was a co-sponsor became law.)

Conor Bronsdon, Ritchie’s campaign manager, acknowledged Thursday the campaign’s website claim of zero bills passed was inaccurate and would be quickly corrected. In fact, the website was changed by early Thursday afternoon to say besides renaming a post office Reichert had sponsored “exactly one” piece of legislation signed into law.

However, Reichert’s campaign points to his role in more substantive legislation over the years on issues including emergency preparedness and aid for veterans. At times, the legislation has been wrapped into larger bills, as frequently happens in Congress.

In 2012, for example, Reichert’s “Housing for Heroes” bill language was included in a larger piece of legislation to combat homelessness among U.S. military veterans.

In 2006, Reichert’s FEMA-reform bill, the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006, was included in Homeland Security legislation signed into law by President Bush. (Reichert later complained Bush had weakened some FEMA reforms through presidential “signing statements.”)

An anti-sex trafficking bill sponsored by Reichert was included in a related package of legislation that is awaiting a signature from the president.

Harvey said Ritchie “should learn the complexities of how Congress works” instead of making such allegations.

But Bronsdon argued the list of Reichert’s successful bills remains short, and “not particularly relevant” to the 8th District.

Bronsdon added he didn’t think Reichert can claim to be a champion of veterans while voting to cut food stamps and to repeal the Affordable Care Act, programs he said benefit veterans and their families. Reichert still has not agreed to a debate with Ritchie, and Democrats planned to protest outside the Republican’s Issaquah fundraiser Thursday featuring former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Comments | More in 2014 elections, Congressional races, Politics Northwest | Topics: 8th Congressional District, Dave Reichert, Jason Ritchie

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