Meet Dan Newhouse, The One GOP Congressman Absent From The AHCA Vote

Reuters/Carlos Barria

Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research
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Washington’s Dan Newhouse, the Republican representing the state’s Fourth Congressional District, found himself in a peculiar state of affairs.

Not too long ago, the Congressman’s wife was diagnosed with cancer. As anyone would know who has gone through such terrible things, a dedication to family supersedes service almost always. Even when both still remain vitally important to the individual.

Normally, I would take this time to criticize the Washington moderate Republican; however, I want to flip the script a bit and voice my admiration for Newhouse’s dedication to his family life.

As we all know, the House of Representatives voted to pass the newly revised, Freedom Caucus endorsed American Health Care Act. Such a benchmark vote witnessed an almost 100 percent roll call that was nearly split down party lines. But, given the state of Mr. Newhouse’s personal life, he was the only member not present to cast a vote.

The reason obviously being: to take care of his wife. According to the Tri-City Herald, Newhouse opted to stay in Washington to tend to the needs of his sick wife as the vote was happening. He even released a statement on the diagnosis stating that, “I need to be with my family as we face this challenge together… As I spend time caring for my wife, I appreciate patience and understanding while I stay by her side. I take my responsibility as your representative very seriously.”

But, given the sentiments, people on all sides of the overarching political backdrop are now criticizing him for his actions and his position on the bill.

Well, he is a Republican… So, you can only suspect that he was in support of the amended repeal. In fact, he was. Newhouse released a statement after the vote took place stating that, “I strongly believe that every American deserves access to affordable health care, and the status quo under the ACA is not working.”

He even was kind enough to say in the same statement that, “Because of my wife Carol’s health, I have largely remained by her side and was unable to be in D.C. for the vote on the AHCA. I am pleased the process to improve our health care system will continue with action by the Senate and further negotiations with the House. I will continue to work with my colleagues to keep my promise to reverse the burdens created by Obamacare and restore patient-centered health care.”

Despite all of this, people are pissed off at him. Why? Because of his absence.

To be honest, I was really puzzled and slightly irritated the man didn’t vote; however, that was before I knew the real reasons.

Others on Twitter, nevertheless, have characterized Newhouse’s absence as grounds to throw him out of office. He’s a “spineless passive aggressive” one user that supports retaining Obamacare said. Another called for to “clean house” just because he was in support of the AHCA. Granted, he is a Republican congressman from Washington state so he can expect that he has a challenge from the great big blue political machine coming in 2018.

What is most egregious, though, are the jokes about his wife. I won’t get into them because they could make your skin crawl; but, just search your social media for these posts and you’ll see what I mean.

To chalk them all up, some thought it was appropriate to crack wise on a Republican congressman’s sick wife like it was karma for the so-called act of denying people access to health insurance.

With that, “thank you” to the tolerant left.  All I can say on this is that they wouldn’t be wishing foul on Newhouse for supporting his wife during her sickness if he was a Democrat. Or if he was a colored, gay, Muslim. Or if he was a rich socialist senator from Vermont. We all know that there is a degree of truth to this and that a double standard is at play.

I admit, the man is a mixed bag for me. If you look at voting records, Newhouse and I wouldn’t agree with everything. However, the good votes he has are monumental examples of his deepest character, I feel. For one, he voted for the Rep. Raúl Labrador’s (R-Idaho) First Amendment Defense Act that would have reaffirmed religious liberty and rights to conscience across the country (yes, even for Muslims).

Regardless of all of this, the main reason why I am not wasting my breath to criticize Newhouse for not being “conservative enough” is because this state in time doesn’t prompt such pettiness on my part. Once you get away from the personal infatuations brought by both, conservative and liberal politics, the degree of respect I have gained for Mr. Newhouse should trump even the slightest of political disagreement.

It is my opinion that when you can put your family before anything else in cases of distress, especially above your several-hundred-thousand-person congressional district, you have the basic fortitude of understanding the difference between dedication to constituents and service versus becoming a careerist pig of a politician (like the majority of Congress).

No, I am not justifying absence of service; however, one of my mentors always taught me that you can’t effect positive change to limit government and reaffirm free markets if your home life isn’t squared away.