Fortenberry’s Gross Hypocrisy On Mental Health And Guns
Representative Jeff Fortenberry is a longtime, loyal servant of the gun lobby or NRA. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Fortenberry voted against funding research on the causes of gun violence. In 2017, Fortenberry voted in favor of a NRA sponsored bill that has made it easier for the mentally ill to obtain guns. (The bill was so extreme, Trump signed it into law in secrecy.) Earlier this year, Fortenberry joined most House Republicans in voting against a background checks bill.
In the wake of the recent massacres in El Paso and Dayton, Fortenberry put up a short series of posts on his twitter feed. (Fortenberry normally keeps a pretty low profile and doesn’t say much.) Fortenberry posted (in part) as follows: “Sadly, our country must again struggle with the ‘why’ of two more senseless mass shootings of innocent people. Legislatively, we can find common ground to improve threat assessment and prevention, and tackle the mental health issues behind much of this violence. We must also acknowledge that a violent society begins with brokenness and disregard for innocent life. “
Fortenberry’s response is straight out of the gun lobby playbook. Unfortunately, he continues to be bewildered as to why the U.S. is the only First World country that is plagued by an epidemic of mass gun slaughters. I addressed the “why” that seems to puzzle Fortenberry in a recent post. Due to the gun lobby’s iron grip on policy in the U.S. over the last four decades, the U.S. has many more guns than any other industrialized country. It’s the guns, stupid.
The portion of the post I’m most interested in addressing is Fortenberry’s claim that somehow mental illness is behind all of these massacres and his so-called willingness to do something about it. As a starting point, there is simply no correlation between mental illness and most gun slaughters. Rosie Phillips Davis, president of the American Psychological Associates, released a statement in the wake of these massacres: “ The rates of mental illness are roughly the same around the world, yet other countries are not experiencing these traumatic events as often as we face them. One critical factor is access to, and the lethality of, the weapons that are being used in these crimes. Adding racism, intolerance and bigotry to the mix is a recipe for disaster.”
Now what about Fortenberry’s claim he allegedly wants to tackle the “mental health issues?” As usual with the First CD Congressman, there is a large gap between his seemingly moderate rhetoric and his extreme right wing voting record. (Incidentally, Fortenberry’s former phony reputation as a moderate has been shattered by the new — and unwanted — attention he has gleaned due to his ardent support for Trump’s extreme agenda. He has not responded well to the increased scrutiny.)
Fortenberry’s record on mental health issues is inexecrable. He voted approximately 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan. That would have taken away insurance from 20 million Americans and brought back the insurance industry’s hated pre-existing condition clauses. Moreover, in 2017, Fortenberry voted for the Trump Care bill that would’ve thrown 23 million people off insurance coverage and gutted pre-existing condition protections. Finally, Fortenberry has voted two times in support of the Trump/Ricketts lawsuit aimed at invalidating the entire Affordable Care Act by judicial fiat.
As usual, Fortenberry says one thing in Nebraska and votes differently in Washington. When it comes to Fortenberry, voters are well advised to watch what he does and not what he says. The CD01 member of Congress invariably votes with his party bosses and the most extreme members of the House GOP caucus. He is no moderate — it’s not even close.
The 2020 election cycle is approaching and somebody needs to step up to run against Fortenberry. The 2018 election results indicated that there is Fortenberry fatigue in CD01. Jessica McClure carried Lancaster County and received 40% of the vote. It was the best showing for a Democratic CD01 nominee since Maxine Moul in 2006.
My advice to all of you potential candidates in CD01: Just do it! I had the time of my life when I ran for Congress. I think Jessica McClure would say the same thing about her 2018 run. If you have a genuine passion for federal issues and the House of Representatives, you should throw your hat in the ring. I would strongly encourage you to go for it. You will have the experience of a lifetime!