In a bitter partisan showdown over government funding, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (R-Ala.) bucked his party leadership, voting with most Republicans and a handful of red-state Democrats to end a filibuster blocking a bill to keep the government open and fund children’s health care.
The vote represented a first big test for Jones, whose bipartisan tone rhetoric and tone helped him become a viable alternative to many moderate Republicans and independents in December’s special election for the U.S. Senate. But, most general election candidates promise to work in a bipartisan way. Even Jones’ opponent Roy Moore said he would work with Democrats to find common ground.
What made Jones’ decision especially interesting and meaningful was his making funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, a centerpiece of his campaign. When Republicans attached a six-year extension of the program to their bill to keep the government operational and successfully passed it through the House, Jones had to choose between taking a easy win on a campaign promise or holding firm to filibuster with his Democratic leadership.
Jones chose the former and, after the vote, released a statement that directly attributed the vote to his campaign commitments on CHIP.
“At the end of the day, we all know this is not how government is supposed to run but I made a commitment to more than 150,000 children and their families who depend on Alabama’s CHIP program, ALL Kids,” Jones’ said.”
“Because of CHIP and the many families in Alabama and around our country that would be put in jeopardy by a government shutdown, I felt compelled to vote yes.”
The vote to end the filibuster ultimately failed and the government remains shut down. The Associated Press is reporting a new agreement is emerging between moderate members of both the Republican and Democratic factions to end the stalemate and fund the government.
Last night, Jones tweeted that he is a part of those discussions, putting him firmly in the camp of Republicans and red-state Democrats wanting to end the filibuster led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).