The Washington Times editorial page invited the offices of the three Republican candidates for House majority leader to submit a series of floor votes that distinguished each of the candidates from the other two.
Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri emphasized his disagreement with Rep. John Boehner of Ohio over immigration. Declaring he had "no problem being on the other side of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce," Mr. Blunt specifically cited a provision (opposed by Mr. Boehner and the chamber) in an immigration bill passed by the House in December that would require employers to confirm all employees' eligibility to work by checking Social Security numbers against a database. Further contrasting his record with Mr. Boehner's, Mr. Blunt cited his own support for a 2003 amendment that would have capped U.S. contributions to the United Nations at no more than any other permanent member of the Security Council and his 2002 support for a bill that would allow tax-exempt religiously affiliated organizations to participate in politics, so long as such participation did not represent a "substantial part" of their work. Contrasting his positions with Rep. John Shadegg, Mr. Blunt referred to his 2001 support for a constitutional amendment banning flag desecration and his 2000 support for a product-liability bill that would cap punitive damages against small businesses.
Mr. Shadegg emphasized his opposition to the 2003 Medicare prescription-drug program (supported by Messrs. Boehner and Blunt) by noting that Medicare trustees estimate the bill will add $8.7 trillion to Medicare's unfunded liabilities. Mr. Shadegg cited his opposition to the 2002 farm bill (supported by Mr. Blunt), which raised farm spending by $73.5 billion over 10 years and effectively repealed many of the market-oriented provisions of the 1996 Freedom to Farm bill. Mr. Shadegg also emphasized his 2002 opposition to a bankruptcy-overhaul rule (supported by Messrs. Blunt and Boehner) because it included a provision that singled out peaceful abortion protesters by blocking them from declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying court-ordered fines.
Both Mr. Shadegg and Mr. Boehner cited their opposition to last year's transportation bill (supported by Mr. Blunt), which contained more than 6,000 earmarked projects totaling more than $24 billion in pork-barrel spending. Mr. Boehner emphasized that he had never requested a pork project for his district during his 15-year tenure.
Like Mr. Shadegg, Mr. Boehner cited his opposition to the 2002 farm-bill conference report supported by Mr. Blunt. However, whereas Mr. Shadegg cited his opposition to the 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and complained that it "increase federal mismanagement of K-12 education," Mr. Boehner emphasized his sponsorship of the measure and argued that it "prohibits the education bureaucracy from continuing to take billions of dollars a year in taxpayer funds without proving that money is being used effectively on behalf of poor children."
Mr. Boehner also cited his opposition to the immigration bill passed by the House in December because it "place a massive unfunded mandate on small employers." Contrasting his votes on school choice and vouchers with Mr. Blunt's, Mr. Boehner cited his 2001 support for the voucher and pilot-school-choice amendments to the NCLB bill; his 1999 support for federally financed early grade vouchers ($100 million per year for five years); and his 1997 support for a bill authorizing states to use certain federal funds for elementary and secondary education to finance scholarships for low-income students to attend public, private and religious schools. Mr. Blunt opposed all measures, while Mr. Shadegg joined Mr. Boehner in support.