Independent Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are an endangered species according to a two-term Congresswoman retiring this year.
Four years ago, Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) showed her party a path to power in the House, which was successful. She began as a member of the minority party under former President Donald Trump’s administration. She showed pragmatism and a willingness to work across the aisle to achieve her objective of making an incremental change to gun control legislation.
The so-called Dickey amendment has prevented federal funds being used to advocate or promote gun control since its passage in 1996. That budgetary language constrained the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from researching gun violence. Rep. Murphy convinced Trump and Republican legislators to make a small change in the law to allow for CDC gun research.
The 2018 omnibus funding bill signed by former President Trump included a one-sentence clarification of the Dickey Amendment to allow the CDC research.
““While appropriations language prohibits the CDC and other agencies from using appropriated funding to advocate or promote gun control, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has stated the CDC has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.”
In a Politico interview, the outgoing congresswoman explained how the change was made possible. She explained her thought was to find something that would make an impact on the issue of gun violence that could earn bipartisan support.
“I decided that lifting the 22-year ban on gun safety research was something that we could probably all get around,” she said. “I mean, everybody has the right to have different political policy approaches to addressing the issue, but let’s all have the same set of facts.”
A pivotal moment came after a televised negotiation between Trump and lawmakers when she slipped him a short message and asked him to tweet it, if he supported her idea. Murphy said that then-Vice-President Mike Pence told her, on the way out, her idea was probably something the administration could get behind.
The rest was history. And, soon, so will she.
Murphy expressed disappointment with the hyper-partisan atmosphere in the House where leadership is increasingly hell-bent on uniformity from party members. In her Politico interview she talked about her surprise at labor urging her to not support the infrastructure bill unless the social Build Back Better bill was approved. She said her father was in a union and he would not have approved of his council fighting against a bill that would generate thousands of good-paying union jobs.
So far, 31 House Democrats have announced plans to retire before November’s midterm election, according to a “Conservative Brief” report.
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