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Spanberger or AOC: Who's less supportive of Trump?

portraits of Ocasio-Cortez and Spanberger
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Left, D-NY) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (Right, D-VA) have both criticized Pres. Donald Trump. Spanberger's Republican challenger, Nick Freitas, says she's been more critical of Trump than Ocasio-Cortez - a democratic socialist. (Photo composite of congressional portraits).

Speaker: Nick Freitas
Statement: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez votes with President Trump more than Abigail Spanberger does.”
Date: July 11
Setting: Radio interview

Del. Nick Freitas will try to convince voters in the 7th Congressional District that they were fooled in 2018 when they elected Democrat Abigail Spanberger to the U.S. House of Resentatives.

Freitas on July 18 won the Republican nomination to challenge Spanberger this fall. Spanberger won the seat, long held by the GOP, in 2018 when she defeated incumbent Dave Brat.

Freitas, in the days leading up to his nomination, said Spanberger has broken her promise to be an independent, moderate Democrat. He repeatedly said that Spanberger has voted to the left of most Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., a self-described democratic socialist.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez votes with President Trump more than Abigail Spanberger does,” Fretias said during a July 11 interview on Breitbart radio. He repeated the claim during a July 16 radio interview on WRVA. We wondered if he’s right.

Freitas said his claim is based on information published by FiveThirtyEight, a website focused on statistical analyses of politics, economics and sports. It keeps a chart gauging how many times each member of Congress votes with and against President Donald Trump.

Neither Spanberger nor Ocasio-Cortez has offered much support to Trump. They voted to impeach Trump and opposed the president on major issues such as health care, border security, environmental regulations and gun control.

According to the chart, Trump has staked out positions on 80 of the bills the full House has voted on since the start of 2019. Spanberger has voted with the president six times; Ocasio-Cortez has 10 times.

Spanberger’s 7.5% presidential support is the 55th lowest among 233 House Democrats. Ocasio-Cortez’ 12.5% support is the 71st lowest.

So raw statistics indeed show Ocasio-Cortez has voted with the president more often than Spanberger. But numbers don’t tell the whole story. A deeper look at the votes undercuts the theory that Ocasio-Cortez has been more supportive of Trump than Spanberger.

On many of the occasions when Ocasio-Cortez voted with Trump, she was expressing polar disagreements with the president on the issues at hand. For example, in June 2019, Trump opposed a government funding bill in part because it didn’t ban U.S. funds to be spent overseas on abortions. Ocasio-Cortez, in contrast, voted against the bill because it continued a ban on federal funds to being used for abortions in the U.S.

In January 2019, Trump threatened to veto three funding bills that would have ended a government shutdown because they didn’t contain money to combat illegal immigration by expanding the southern border wall. Ocasio-Cortez opposed the bills in part because she thought they had too much money to battle immigration and didn’t abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

Here’s a breakdown of the instances when Ocasio-Cortez or Spanberger voted with Trump:

Spanberger and Trump vs. Ocasio-Cortez

May 15, 2020: Spanberger voted against the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion tax cut and spending bill aimed at easing the economic downturn from the coronavirus. The bill includes nearly $1 trillion for state, local governments; direct payments to individuals, up to $6,000 per family; $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers; $75 billion for coronavirus testing and student loan forgiveness.

But the Democratic-led House also put in the bill several measures not directly aimed at COVID-19 that Trump vehemently opposes: more funding for the U.S. Postal Service and a requirement that all voters be allowed to cast ballots by mail this November. Spanberger said she opposed the legislation because lawmakers “have decided to use this package as an opportunity to make political statements and propose a bill that goes far beyond pandemic relief and has no chance at becoming law…”.

The bill passed the House and is pending in the Senate.

Feb. 28, 2020: Spanberger voted against a bill that would ban the manufacture and sale of flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and tobacco flavors. She joined lawmakers from rural districts with a history of tobacco farming in opposing the measure. Trump said the legislation would hurt the economy.

The bill passed the House and is pending in the Senate.

Dec. 19, 2019: Spanberger joined Trump in backing a trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that will make it harder for other countries to send goods into North America tariff-free. Trump has signed the bill.

July 17, 2019: Spanberger joined a majority of House Democrats and Republicans in killing an impeachment resolution against Trump for telling four congresswomen to “go back” to their home countries. (Spanberger supported two different impeachment articles against Trump in December 2020).

 

Trump and Ocasio-Cortez vs. Spanberger

Nov. 15, 2019: Spanberger voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which offers financing to foreign nations importing U.S. products. Although Trump supports the bank, he threatened to veto this bill amid GOP complaints that it wouldn’t ban the bank from helping state-owned enterprises in China. Ocasio-Cortez opposed the bill for a different reason, saying it lacked environmental safeguards for energy projects financed abroad.

The bill passed the House but stalled in the Senate. In December 2019, Trump signed an appropriations bill that, among many other things, reauthorized the bank for seven years.

July 25, 2019: Ocasio-Cortez voted for a Trump-backed budget deal that raised domestic and defense spending. It also suspended caps on government borrowing. Spanberger voted against the bill, saying it would increase national debt by at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Trump signed the deal.

July 12, 2019: Spanberger voted to authorize $733 in defense spending for the budget year that started Oct 1, 2019. She praised the bill for offering a 3.1% raise to service members, addressing military housing issues and reaffirming support for soldiers stationed on the Korean peninsula.

Trump and Ocasio-Cortez opposed the bill for different reasons. Trump wanted a $750 billion appropriation and objected to an amendment that would have required him to get congressional approval before waging war with Iran. Ocasio-Cortez opposed it after failing to gain support for an amendment that would have barred the president from deploying troops at the Mexican border to enforce immigration laws. The amendment also would have prevented the Defense Department from housing migrants at its centers.

Trump eventually signed a $738 billion compromise.

June 25, 2019: Spanberger voted to send $4.5 billion in humanitarian aid to the Mexican border to help immigrants. Trump threatened a veto, saying the bill had provisions that would restrict his ability to control the flow of immigrants. Ocasio-Cortez said she voted against the bill at the request of constituents who are opposed to Trump’s immigration policies.

June 19, 2019: Spanberger voted for a $983 billion funding bill that would keep much of the federal government open through September 2019.

Trump and Ocasio-Cortez opposed the bill, but for different reasons. Trump objected to provisions that would have blocked the administration from diverting funds to build the border wall and allowed U.S. aid to be used for aborrtion services overseas. Ocasio-Cortez voted against the bill  after failing to pass an amendment that would have ended a ban on federal funds being used for U.S. abortions.

Jan. 23-24, 2019: Spanberger voted for three funding bills that would have ended what became a 35-day government shutdown. Trump threatened to veto the bills because they didn’t include money to build the border wall. Ocasio-Cortez opposed the bills in part because they funded the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, which she campaigned on eliminating.

 

All together

On two bills, both Spanberger and Ocasio-Cortez voted in accordance with Trump.

March 14, 2020: They backed a successful bill that provided enhanced unemployment benefits, free virus testing, tax credits to small- and medium-size businesses, and additional funds for food assistance and Medicaid.

Dec. 19,2019: They opposed increasing the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes in 2019.  The bill passed the House and has not been taken up in the Senate.

Our ruling

Freitas says, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez votes with President Trump more than Abigail Spanberger does.”

In raw numbers, his statement certainly holds up. Trump has taken a position on 80 of the bills that have come up for vote in the full House since the start of 2019. Ocasio-Cortez voted in accord with him 10 times and Spanberger did six times.

Neither congress member can be listed as a Trump advocate. But the suggestion that Ocasio-Cortez was somewhat friendlier to the president withers when we look behind the numbers. When Ocasio-Cortez voted with Trump, it was usually for reasons that were antithetical to his agenda. The same pattern isn’t visible in Spanberger’s record.

So Freitas’ statement tells half the story, and we rate it Half True.

Sources

Nick Freitas, comments on Breitbart Radio, Jul 11, 2019 (2:52 mark).
Freitas, comments on WRVA radio, July 16, 2020 (4:05 mark).
FiveThirtyEight, “Tracking Congress in the Age of Trump,” accessed July 17, 2020.
Congress.gov, HR 6800, HR2339, HR5430, HRes 498, HR4863, HR3877, HR2500, HR3401, HR2740, HR6201, HR5337.
Abigail Spanberger, Press releases, May 15, 2020, July 26, 2019, July 15, 2019.
The Washington Post, “House Democrats pass $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill despite Trump’s veto threat,” May 15, 2020.
Politico, “House leadership scrambles to save anti-vaping bill after Dem resistance, “ Feb. 27, 2020.
The Washington Post, “House votes to kill impeachment resolution against Trump, avoiding a direct vote on whether to oust the president,” July 17, 2019.
Friends of the Earth, News release, Nov. 15, 2019.
Associated Press, “Partisan vote in House for Export-Import Bank measure,” Nov. 15, 2019.
Export-Import Bank, Press release, Dec. 20, 2019.
The New York Times, “Divided House passes 2-year budget deal to raise spending,” July 25, 2019.
The New York Times, “House Passes $733 Billion Defense Bill Checking Trump’s War Powers,” July 12, 2019.
Donald Trump, Remarks at bill signing, Dec. 20, 2019.
The Washington Post, “Budget meeting on Capitol Hill produces no progress as deadlines loom,” June 19, 2019.
The Hill, “Ocasio-Cortez starts petition to repeal Hyde Amendment,” June 15, 2019.
Salon, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the only House Democrat who voted against a bill to end the shutdown,” Jan. 24, 2019.