Our View: Denham disappoints with his vote to continue shutdown

Jeff Denham
Jeff Denham

Three of the four members of Congress from our region voted predictably Wednesday night on the deal to end the partial government shutdown. Democrats Jim Costa, who represents all of Merced County, and Jerry McNerney, who represents part of San Joaquin County, voted to approve the legislation, which included raising the debt ceiling through January.

Tom McClintock has consistently shown himself to be stridently anti-government, and so we weren’t surprised that he opposed the 11th hour compromise, along with other identified tea party Republicans. McClintock, a career politician, wasn’t at all swayed by the fact that his Sierra-Mother Lode district was seriously hurt by the closure of Yosemite National Park, especially businesses in the gateway communities that rely on tourism.

The vote that was surprising – and disappointing – was that of Jeff Denham, who presents himself as a reasoned conservative willing to be bipartisan. He is that – but only some of the time.

The statement his office released after his “no” vote included this explanation: “The American people deserve long-term solutions to stop the spending, stop running up the debt and give real certainty to families across the country and the financial markets so we can get back on a path to economic success and job growth.”

Ah, yes, he’ll only accept the perfect solution, even if waiting for that creates chaos. It’s easy to spout the ideal, but day-to-day governing requires compromise and collaboration.

We asked Denham on Thursday whether he is participating in the tea party caucus or considers himself a tea party Republican. His emailed reply: “I am independent as I always have been, and I am a member of the Republican Study Committee, made up of Republicans; Tuesday Group, which looks for market-based solutions; and No Labels, a group of Republicans and Democrats working across the aisle to support bipartisan legislation.”

Denham didn’t work across the aisle in this case. His vote against ending the shutdown clearly aligned him with extremists rather than what was in the best interest of his California constituents and the country.