Nine months ago, U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse and nine of his fellow Republicans did something courageous.
Just six days after the deadly and disgraceful assault on the U.S. Capitol, they chose country over party. They voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting a riot that resulted in the needless deaths of five Americans.
Standing on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, a somber Newhouse seemed sincere as he cast his vote. “With a heavy heart and clear resolve,” he said, “I will vote yes on impeachment.”
For anyone who believes in the rule of law, selfless patriotism and all the traits we’ve long valued in this country, it was a hopeful day. Finally, a few Republicans were willing to call out their party’s roundly disproven claims of a “stolen” 2020 presidential election. Perhaps, many of us hoped, they’d finally stop gaslighting anyone who hadn’t fallen under Trump’s spell.
Maybe the power of that moment is what makes Newhouse’s latest political move so disappointing.
As co-sponsor of a ludicrous bill called the “Masks Off Act,” the Sunnyside native has not only embarrassed himself, he’s made it clear that the very lives of his constituents matter less to him than winning reelection in 2022.
Yes, while Central Washington’s exhausted health care workers battle a devastating COVID surge and beg people to get vaccinated and wear masks, Newhouse is pushing a bill that would reward those who defy the health experts’ pleas.
Under the plan, taxpayer dollars would pay for grants to anti-mask parents who want to yank their kids from schools that mandate masks and enroll them in schools that don’t require masks. The grants — which could be as much as $13,000 per parent — could be used to pay for transfers or hire private tutors.
This as COVID infection rates for school-age kids continue to rise.
The bill, HR 5327, is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled House, and we suspect Newhouse knows that full well. He’s simply pandering to parents who apparently care little for their communities, let alone their children’s health.
He’s trying to appease extremists in his party who’ve been howling for his head ever since his impeachment vote. He needs to show them he hasn’t gone soft, so he’s proving it by doing something that crowd loves: reckless and defiant gestures that stick it to the libs.
It’s sad to watch.
We miss the Dan Newhouse who stood up and acted like a leader Jan. 13. That Dan Newhouse is better than this.
Or at least we thought he was.