Kratovil Out of Sight, Not of Mind
Rep. Frank Kratovil of Maryland's Eastern Shore beat a hasty retreat from Washington just minutes after drawing major attention to himself for the first time as a member of Congress.
The freshman Democrat was one of just 11 Democrats (out of 255) to vote against the administration's $819 billion economic stimulus measure, which is designed to fight the recession with massive federal spending and tax cuts.
Every Republican in the House also opposed the measure, allowing Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio to crow that opposition to the House version of President Barack Obama's package was bipartisan, unlike the purely Democratic support for the measure.
Kratovil's departure, which put him safely out of reach of the public and the press, was previously scheduled.
The First District congressman, who took office earlier this month, is on an his first official trip as a new member of the House Armed Services Committee. A committee spokeswoman says its policy is to provide no public information about official trips until all of the travellers are safely back from overseas.
Kratovil's office confirms that he left on a committee trip and that he'll be back on Tuesday, February 3.
At that point, there will be more details about the journey, and the congressman will likely get an earful from constituents, pro and con, about his first big vote.
In a prepared statement released after last night's vote, Kratovil said the package had too little immediate economic stimulus for such a large price tag. He left open the possibility of voting in favor of the measure after it returns to the House, probably next month, following expected approval by the Senate and further massaging by a House-Senate conference committee.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which is already targeting Kratovil for defeat in 2010, sent out a press release several hours before the vote, highlighting a $355 million in the $819 billion package for health education, including programs to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
The Republicans wanted to know if Kratovil would support such liberal, wasteful Washington spending. At this point, the answer is "no."