Our political system in many ways is breaking, and Republican Chris Vance offers one alternative to voters tired of the status quo this fall. In his election challenge of our state’s senior U.S. senator, Democrat Patty Murray, Vance promises to reach across the political aisle to solve budget and immigration challenges. And he’d seek to deal with the growing U.S. government debt.
A deadlock in Congress is occurring because the members of both parties refuse to buck their own parties on these huge issues, Vance contends. The answer is to elect politicians such as himself who are willing to seek solutions that reach across the partisan aisle, he adds.
Murray, he argues, is in her 24th year, is a high-ranking member of the Senate caucus leadership, and she doesn’t break ranks often enough to shake up the institution.
That all sounds good, and Vance deserves a lot of respect as well for his brave recognition — back in the spring — that Donald Trump would be a terrible choice for president. Vance made clear, which other GOP politicians are only coming around to now, that Trump is a demagogue unfit for the presidency.
Stop for a minute and think about this: Vance is a former Washington State Republican Party chairman. He’s also a former state legislator, King County councilman, candidate for U.S. House and a political consultant.
But while Vance’s pledges of seeking bipartisan solutions are good, it’s not clear he can do it any better than Murray, who we see as an effective lawmakers capable of making deals at the deadline.
In recent years, she helped broker budget deals with House Speaker Paul Ryan that kept the government’s doors open. She’s worked with the FDA to expand women’s access to such birth control as the morning-after pill.
This year, she and Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee led efforts to overhaul the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, reduce the role of school diagnostic tests and reduce federal coercion of states on school policy.
Having opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Murray has battled to improve Veterans Administration services for soldiers injured in that war, Afghanistan and other conflicts, which is important to our communities around Joint Base Lewis-McChord and nationwide.
Her work on a short-term budget resolution this month ensured that $1 billion is invested to fight the Zika virus, while avoiding House Republican cuts in funding for Planned Parenthood (Vance called that GOP attack “crazy”). The short-term budget fix also requires the VA to cover the cost of in vitro fertilization for veterans whose war injuries prevent reproduction by natural means.
On social issues, Murray has supported our country’s evolution on same-sex marriage. On hot-button social issues, the best Vance can do is pledge not to overturn laws Washington voters have weighed in on. This presumably covers the gamut from same-sex marriage to abortion and background checks for gun buyers.
Both candidates favor taking middle-ground, constructive steps to regulate immigration, require e-verification of workers by employers, and also allow a path to citizenship for those here illegally.
Vance is right in wishing our U.S. senator took the national debt more seriously and that she could more quickly find ways to shore up Social Security and Medicare. It’s not clear that Vance’s answer to those challenges — to go with what the Simpson-Bowles commission recommended a few years back — is the best way, but his attitude is good.
That bipartisan commission sought to raise the retirement age, lift the cap on earnings subject to the federal payroll tax, and lower the inflation factor for benefits, among other solutions; Murray opposes raising the retirement age and would like to expand benefits for women who left the workforce to raise children, which are noble goals.
On the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, Murray voted to give the president fast-track authority to sign it. Vance now wants to see a vote to adopt it; Murray has not yet taken a public position.
Overall, we think Murray is hard-working, tireless and often effective.
Although Vance is closer to the type of Republican we could support for this important office, we don’t think this is a good time to abandon the influence and skills Murray brings to the job.
In this time of great change and the outsized influence of the Freedom Caucus in the GOP-led House, Washington state and Washington, D.C., need Patty Murray for another six-year term.