GOP congresswoman takes victory lap for military vote she skipped


Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn hailed the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act for helping the military, but she didn't bother showing up for the final vote that would ensure its passage.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican nominee for the open U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee, skipped the final vote on the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act.

Blackburn has often held herself out as a champion of the military and veterans. But when she had the chance to actually do her job and vote for the bipartisan bill, Blackburn was instead campaigning for higher office. Fellow Tennessee Republican Rep. Diane Black also skipped the final vote, which passed 359-54.

On Twitter, however, after the legislation was signed into law, Blackburn was happy to take a victory lap and sing its praises and even hint that she deserves some credit for its passage and the specific perks for her state.

"Yesterday, @realDonaldTrump signed into law the largest pay raise for our troops in 9 years," she wrote. "The 2019 #NDAA increases funding for training & equipment, and provides much-needed resources to rebuild our military & upgrades to Tennessee's defense installations like @FortCampbell."

Despite being AWOL on this vote, Blackburn doesn't hesitate to wrap herself in the flag when it suits her. In January, she ran radio ads echoing Trump by claiming that standing during the national anthem at NFL games was about respecting veterans.

"They fought for our freedom and they deserve our respect every single day," the ad began. Blackburn called on Tennesseans to "take that three minutes and use that as a time to sing those words."

She invoked a similar argument in the video that launched her Senate campaign. "I stand when I hear the Star-Spangled Banner," she said.

She also vowed, in that video, to continue supporting Trump's radical agenda, as she has done in the House. That's why Trump enthusiastically endorsed her. But behind the scenes, he and the rest of the GOP have worried that even in deep red Tennessee, a state Trump won by 26 points, she might not actually be able to deliver.

In February, Republicans who were panicking about the prospect of Blackburn as their nominee begged Sen. Bob Corker, who is retiring, to reconsider. Corker has been a loud and frequent critic of Trump.

Corker declined, leaving the party stuck with Blackburn.

Now Blackburn is showing just how much like Trump she really is. Trump invokes patriotism and claims support for the military when it's convenient. But he has a nasty habit of disrespecting the military and leaving them out in the cold.

Clearly, Blackburn is all too eager to do the same.