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Politifact VA: Freitas Says Spanberger Too Partisan

Spanberger at a campaign rally
Nick Freitas, Republican nominee for Virginia's 7th congressional district, says Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D - Glen Allen) is too partisan in her votes because she often votes with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Photo: Ezra Deutsch-Feldman/CC BY-SA)

Speaker: Nick Freitas
Statement: Abigail Spanberger “has voted with Nancy Pelosi over 90% of the time…”
Date: Sept. 4
Setting: Radio interview

Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t  on the ballot in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, but her name is ever present in this fall’s closely-watched race between Democratic incumbent Abigail Spanberger and Republican Nick Freitas.

Freitas, a state legislator, has repeatedly accused Spanberger of breaking a 2018 promise to shun partisanship, and says she’s become a Pelosi loyalist

“She’s voted with Nancy Pelosi over 90% of the time…” he said during a Sept. 4 interview on Newsradio WRVA in Richmond.

We fact checked that statistic, which also is being cited on a TV ad sponsored by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a conservative super PAC.

The source of the statistic is ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative news service based in New York. Its data shows Spanberger and Pelosi agreed on 92% of the votes they both cast in this Congress, which began at the start of 2019.

There are a few things to keep in mind about this statistic.

First, majority parties vote overwhelmingly with the speaker, whom they elect. Spanberger is one of the least loyal Democrats to Pelosi. There are 232 Democrats in the House, and only 10 have voted in greater opposition to Pelosi than Spanberger.

More than half of the Democrats - 133 in total -  have agreed with Pelosi every time she’s voted this Congress. Even the most contrary Democrat - Collin Peterson of Minnesota - has voted with her 81%  of the time.

Also keep in mind that speakers vote at their discretion, which means they usually vote only on the most partisanly-charged issues.

Pelosi has participated in 9% of the House votes this session. That’s 74 votes, and Spanberger has agreed with her 68 times. They’ve been in sync on most major issues, including:

 

Of their six disagreeing votes, three concerned the Heroes Act - a $3 trillion tax cut and spending bill the House approved in May to spur the COVID-19 economy. Pelosi supported it. Spanberger voted against it, saying it was bloated with Democratic wish-list items. The bill is stalled in the Senate.

Spanberger voted against a budget deal last year that Pelosi negotiated, saying it would greatly enlarge the national debt. They also disagreed on a bill that would ban the manufacture and sale of flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes, which Spanberger opposed; and an amendment that would require customs official to be notified when an undocumented alien tries to buy a gun, which Spanberger backed.

It should be noted that Spanberger didn’t support Pelosi’s election as speaker at the start of 2019 - an action not counted in ProPublica’s database. But even if it had been included, Spanberger would remain above the 90% level Freitas set for agreeing with the speaker.

We should also note that Republicans are criticizing their opponents’ voting percentage with Pelosi in key races across the country. That includes Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District race, where Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Scott Taylor.

Our ruling

Freitas says Spanberger has voted with Nancy Pelosi over 90% of the time.” Let’s remember that only 10 Democrats voted against Pelosi more often than Spanberger.

That said, Spanberger and Pelosi still agreed on 92 percent of the votes they both cast. So we rate Freitas’ statement True.

Sources

Nick Freitas, Interview on NewsRadio WRVA, Sept. 4, 2020 (7:17 mark)..

ProPublica, Comparison of votes by Pelosi and Spanberger, accessed Sept. 7, 2020.

Congress.gov., H.R.6800, HRes965, H.R.3877, H.R.2329, H.R.1425, HRes755, H.R.582, H.J.Res46, H.R.6, H.R.8, H.R.9, H.R.7120, Roll call 108, 116th Congressional session..

Abigail Spanberger, statement on Heroes Act, May 15, 2020.

Spanberger, Statement on H.R.3877, July 26, 2019.

Congressional Record, House Vote 98 on page 2260, Feb. 27, 2019.

Congressional Record, Election of speaker, Jan. 3, 2019.

Congressional Leadership Fund, “Key races,” accessed Sept. 8, 2020.