INDIANAPOLIS – Congressman Rokita’s vote last week against the omnibus funding package shortly after it was revealed his provision at the center of a January pay-for-play scandal was excluded from the bill has forced Hoosiers to wonder if he voted to shut down the government over his scandal-ridden legislation.
The bill Congressman Rokita voted against last Wednesday, which passed with a large bipartisan majority in both chambers, includes $4 billion in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic and the largest pay increase for our troops in a decade. Congressman Rokita has claimed he opposed the bill because of its effect on the deficit, but his “credibility” as a deficit hawk is in tatters, according to Howey Politics, after voting for the McConnell tax plan and the $2.2 trillion it will add to the national debt.
An alternative explanation for Congressman Rokita’s vote came after Politico reported last week that a provision exempting tribal lands from federal labor laws that he “led the push” for was excluded from the final omnibus bill. That provision is the same one that was at the center of Congressman Rokita’s pay-for-play scandal on which the Associated Press reported in January. According to the report, Congressman Rokita accepted $160,000 in campaign contributions from tribal gaming interests—more than any other Member of Congress—while he was sponsoring the same bill, favored by the tribal gaming lobby, that he pushed for this week.
“[Politicians like Congressman Rokita] can talk all they want about how we’re going to drain the swamp, but it’s even swampier and somewhat less transparent than it’s been in the past,” Julia Vaughn, policy director for Common Cause Indiana, told the Lafayette Journal & Courier after the scandal broke. “[It’s] just really sleazy.”
“Congressman Rokita’s audacity to put his pay-for-play measure before a pay raise for the troops is exactly the reason voters are sick of career politicians like him,” said Michael Feldman, spokesman for the Indiana Democratic Party. “He has apparently decided to pretend January’s scandal never happened and hope no one will notice that he voted to shut down the government over his pay-for-play provision. His infuriating push for his scandal-ridden legislation is another reminder that Congressman Rokita has been in political office so long he’s forgotten that the rules apply to him.”