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What about that Wittman “clean CR” promise?

Yesterday Virginia’s 1st District congressman, Rep. Rob Wittman, said he’d vote for a “clean” continuing resolution to reopen the federal government from its shutdown if one came to the House floor.

A “clean CR” is what people in Washington are calling a spending bill that isn’t tied up with a Republican effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. The House Republicans, including Wittman, have voted for several spending bills that tie the two issues together, which have been rejected by the Democrat-led Senate.

“I’ve emphasized that at every opportunity, I have voted and will continue to vote to fund government,” Wittman said Wednesday. “So if a clean CR comes to the floor I will vote for it. I will vote in favor of opening the government, and I will vote to continue the debate about health care reform and the Affordable Care Act.”

But a few folks have said Wittman’s commitment seems at odds with news reports that at one point on Wednesday, all of the House Republicans voted to defeat a Democratic effort to force a clean CR vote on the floor.  That would include Wittman.

In a statement Wednesday night, Marc Broklawski, Democratic chairman in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District, criticized Wittman’s part in that vote, saying Wittman should “walk the talk.”

“We’re continuing to watch what Congressman Wittman says and most importantly, how he votes or doesn’t vote,” said Broklawski.

Today we checked in with Wittman’s office to ask what the difference was between voting for a clean CR and voting for what the Democrats had tried to do.

We were told that what the Democrats had tried was a technical, procedural motion, attempting to amend a bill that funded only parks and monuments, and that the amendment was essentially the “clean” CR. That amendment was ruled not germane because the underlying bill didn’t cover the whole government. (Germaneness is very much a procedural term that you may remember from a redistricting fight in this year’s General Assembly session.)

The Democrats voted to appeal that ruling, and the House vote was to table their appeal. Since the original Democratic motion to amend the bill was not germane, Wittman staffers said, his vote was to uphold the House rules.