2008 Reichert & SEIU
posted by December 6 at 9:19 AMon
Originally posted late yesterday afternoon.
In my column this week, I report the news that Rep. Dave Reichert met with David Rolf, President of Washington state’s service employees union, SEIU 775, last week.
It’s the first time since taking office in 2004 that Reichert felt the need to meet with the local lefty powerhouse. (Reichert suggested the meeting.)
Is it a sign that Reichert’s running scared? Well, while I found that Reichert does seem anxious about challenger Darcy Burner—which might push him to meet with a get-out-the-vote powerhouse like SEIU—he did have a legitimate gripe with the union, and his staff made a compelling case that he sincerely wanted to set them straight.
I didn’t have the room in my column to go into all the details, but basically, SEIU did a robo call last August trashing Reichert for voting wrong on the House’s first vote on children’s health care, S-CHIP. Reichert supported a different version of the bill—one that included a subsidy for private health insurers to take over a portion of Medicare. Reichert’s office told me they, “don’t care about the iedeology” of private insurers vs. government insurance and simply wanted to “make sure 14,400 seniors in the 8th district didn’t lose health insurance.”
The Senate version put the Medicare portion back in the bill, and Reichert voted for that version when it came up in the House. That’s the version President Bush vetoed (because he didn’t like expanding eligibility to children from middle-income families). Reichert voted with the Democrats to override Bush’s veto.
Reichert sent a letter to SEIU (before the meeting) demanding an apology for the robo-calls, saying SEIU mischaracterized Reichert’s position on SCHIP.
Here’s a copy of the letter Reichert sent to the union demanding the apology.
Reichert also reiterated his demand for an apology in his meeting with Rolf.
Rolf told Reichert during the meeting that SEIU would not apologize, but the union would be happy to respond to Reichert’s letter.
SEIU hasn’t sent off a letter yet, but Rolf tells me SEIU stands by their objection to Rep. Reichert’s first Nay vote on SCHIP—that bill didn’t include the subsidy to private insurers.
But they also applaud Reichert’s follow-up votes—sending the President a strong message about children’s health care.