Last Tuesday’s midterm elections saw a historic number of pro-choice Democratic women elected to Congress, along with a diverse array of pro-choice Democratic men. Many of these candidates emphasized their opposition to the National Rifle Association and their support for common sense gun violence legislation. But apparently House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was watching a different election.
On Fox & Friends on Friday, Scalise was asked about the handful of newly elected progressive Democrats who have indicated they support new leadership in the House and do not plan to support Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for Speaker of the House. His response was to pretend that the new Democratic majority basically ran as Republicans.
“You saw during the campaign that there were a lot of people who flipped seats from Republican to Democrat,” the current-but-soon-to-be-former majority whip said, “that ran not saying that they wanted to resist the president and to impeach the president. They ran practically saying that they’re pro-life and pro-gun and against Nancy Pelosi. There are gonna be some important votes that come up to tell whether or not they will keep their word. A lot of people are gonna be watching.”
While a small number of new Democratic Representatives took nuanced positions on gun rights in their campaigns, the NRA backed none of them. At least 17 ran on their express support for tougher gun laws.
But “pro-life?” None of the new House Democrats elected meet that description. The Democrats for Life of America, which works to elect Democrats who oppose abortion rights, endorsed just two non-incumbent candidates in the 2018 elections: Tim Bjorkman in South Dakota and Dawn Barlow in Tennessee. Neither won. Indeed, as a Politico article noted in August, the “pro-life Democrat” is virtually extinct in Congress. On the other hand, literally dozens of newly elected House Democrats ran with the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice America — including nearly all of the Democrats who flipped Republican districts. Only one potential winner (Utah Democrat Ben McAdams, whose race has not been called) does not generally identify as pro-choice.
With his caucus losing at least 36 seats, it is understandable that Scalise wants to pretend that the new Democratic majority shares his own fierce opposition to reproductive rights and gun violence prevention. But the facts say otherwise.