Brian Fitzpatrick’s record on the environment and protecting democracy has taken a nosedive, says the League of Conservation Voters. That is Conservation, folks, not Conservative. This Washington D.C. environmental advocacy group, founded by David Brower, the father of the environmental movement, has been keeping national scorecards on every Congress since 1970. What it noticed this past year was that Fitzpatrick’s rating, once higher than many Democrats, had dropped from 86 percent in 2019 to 57 percent in 2021
That is a dramatic plunge.
Let’s think what might possibly be the reason? Hmm – 2019 to 2021. What changed?
Back when Donald J. Trump was still President, Fitzpatrick was safe in rooting for soft causes. Why? Because Trump was so popular, Fitzpatrick could flirt with things like health and welfare. So much so that he got the highest ranking for bi-partisan legislation. That likely came to a peak in 2020 when his Problem Solvers Caucus championed, and Trump signed, the Great American Outdoors Act, which magnanimously allotted $9.5 billion over five years for the $12 billion backlog in deferred maintenance in national parks (perhaps sweeping the forests) and $900 million a year, in perpetuity, to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The votes were lopsided in both Senate (72) to 25) and in House (310 to 107).
It is much harder for Fitzpatrick to befriend the environment when a Democratic President is in power, when Pennsylvania is prized as a battleground state, and Fitzpatrick is called upon by GOP leader, Kevin McCarthy, to toe the party line.
Like a schoolboy who gets a note from his mom, he is allowed to vote yea on some bills that are either so popular there is no way to stop them, or so unpopular, his YEA vote is hardly noticed.
But on crucial bills, like Build Back Better, which, at its strongest, meant the country’s biggest investment ever in a low-carbon future (the very words that would make Joe Manchin lose his lunch), Fitzpatrick was required to put a big thumbs down. The bill passed the house, by a margin of 220 to 213. That meant McCarthy whipped all 213 Republican representatives in Congress into line. The bill died in the Senate. Thank you, Senator Manchin.
When it comes to the environment, saving the planet is in one corner and satisfying giant corporations and developers is in the other. As seen on this chart, Democrats vote for the environment, and Republicans vote for their PACs, sorry, their beliefs and philosophical or economic principles. And note, Scott Perry, (R-10), achieved a stunning count of zero. He had to work hard to get zero. It meant that he voted against everything to do with the environment, including a bill to clean up PFAS contamination, which affects safe drinking water in Pennsylvania. Rep. Perry, that is voting with your beliefs, which are what?
“It is disappointing to see Rep. Fitzpatrick, and the state’s entire Republican delegation, fail the 2021 scorecard by siding with corporate polluters and refusing to protect our right to vote even as our democracy is threatened,” said Molly Parzen, interim executive director of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. The Conservation Voters group also ranks votes on democracy and voting rights, since those run parallel to votes on the environment.
“Protecting our right to clean air and water should not be a partisan issue,” she said.