U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart called a measure Saturday to restore chaplain services to military personnel, and other funding bills last week in the aftermath of the partial
government shutdown, political nonsense.
Republicans called his voting record in the last week, including on the chaplain resolution, appalling.
The measure passed in the House 400 to 1. Enyart, D-Belleville, cast the lone no-vote, while 30 others elected not to vote on the question.
Enyart called the legislation a symbolic gesture designed only for political attacks.
“I know there are attack ads against me over this vote. That’s the whole purpose of these kinds of votes,” Enyart said. “Both sides put up these votes to develop political ads, and that is not taking care of Southern Illinois business and it’s not taking care of the nation’s business. This has degenerated into complete political nonsense.”
Enyart pointed to another measure he voted against last week to restore benefits to veterans. Again criticized for the vote, Enyart, a former general, notes it also cuts
$6.1 billion from appropriations already approved by the house, eliminating funding for medical research and prosthetic devices.
“I don’t know how Republicans on that floor can look Tammy Duckworth in the eye after that vote,” Enyart said. Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat congresswoman, lost both her legs during the Iraq War. Meanwhile, other services for military personnel, including day care and commissaries, remain closed.
Among Republicans chastising Enyart on the chaplain vote was potential opponent in the 2014 race for Enyart’s 12th District seat, Mike Bost. He announced his candidacy earlier this year while Enyart confirmed Sunday he plans to seek re-election.
Bost said he had chosen to remain quiet on the earlier votes, but that changed Saturday.
“Now is not the time to be putting petty partisan politics and games ahead of Southern Illinois families,” Bost said. “Bill Enyart today has shown us his true colors, and it’s appalling and embarrassing that he would place military families, members and chaplains on the back burner in order to prove a point and continue the partisan bickering.”
Bost, however, was critical of both parties.
“I get sick and tired of the games. That’s why I haven’t made comment on a lot of the things that have been going on, whether it’s Republican or Democrat,” Bost said. “Right now, they are acting like a bunch of children.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee was similarly harsh in its criticism of Enyart’s stance.
“It is absolutely unconscionable that Bill Enyart would be the only member in the U.S. House to vote against a bill that supports our country’s Armed Forces and chaplains. He should be ashamed of himself, and he owes his constituency, members of the military and their families a serious explanation for this appalling vote,” NRCC spokeswoman Danielle Varallo said.