Why GOP Rep. Tom Reed will make a historic vote with Democrats
ALBANY — Rep. Tom Reed on Thursday broke from his Republican conference and voted Thursday night for a package of congressional rules approved by the Democratic-led House.
Reed announced his decision late Wednesday, a move that made the Southern Tier congressman the first one since 2001 to vote in favor of a rules package of the opposing political party.
Reed was one of three Republicans to vote for the rules package, and he was joined by fellow New York Rep. John Katko of central New York and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.
Reed, R-Corning, Steuben County, said the package includes several of the reforms sought by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that he co-chairs.
One change, for example, will make it easier for bills sponsored by the minority party to pass the House.
“This vote isn’t about partisan politics. It is about doing what is right for the American people,” Reed said in a statement.
“The reforms the Problem Solvers Caucus were able to get included in this rules package go a long way to empower the people we represent, enable rank-and-file members to govern and make it easier for bipartisan bills to pass."
Reed told the USA Today Network's Albany Bureau on Thursday that his decision "comes with some risk" because he could face criticism from his GOP colleagues.
But Reed said he feels his vote is the right thing.
"There is always discussion when you break from the herd of how to try to put that herd mentality back together, and that comes with certain tools they could deploy, but I keep leaders and fellow members informed of what I am doing," Reed said.
In another reform, the new rules will ban lawmakers from serving on the boards of any public corporations.
That reform goes to the heart of the criminal case against fellow western New York Rep. Chris Collins, who served on the board of a corporation and is criminally charged with insider trading.
Collins, R-Clarence, Erie County, was narrowly re-elected in November, despite the criminal charges.
While Reed backed the Democrats' rules, some Democrats did not, including freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-Bronx.
She opposed a new rule that would require any new federal spending to be matched by spending cuts or increases in revenue, called pay as you go.
"PAYGO isn't only bad economics," she tweeted, "it's also a dark political maneuver designed to hamstring progress on healthcare + other leg. We shouldn't hinder ourselves from the start."