Saying votes have “consequences,” Sen. Mark Pryor stood by a controversial ad tying the vote of his Republican opponent, Cong. Tom Cotton, to the Ebola outbreak that has created a world health scare.
Pryor’s ad, which you can view below, contends Cotton voted against the “Pandemic And All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act,” which authorized spending for disease outbreaks and potential health threats such as anthrax attacks.
Cotton voted against a January 22, 2013 version of the bill, but voted for an amended version on March 4, 2013. Cotton cited concerns about significant federal authority as the reason for his first vote against the original bill, but Pryor said, despite the change, Cotton should still be held accountable.
“When Congressman Cotton voted no on this, he had no idea that months and months later he might get a second bite at this apple, he had no idea of that. He voted to eliminate the program. It was very clear what he did,” Pryor said at a Little Rock press conference at his campaign headquarters on Wednesday.
David Ray, spokesman for the Cotton campaign, said, “Tom Cotton voted against a bill that would give President Obama’s HHS Secretary the ability to force Arkansas health workers into federal service to be deployed to hot zones as if they were active duty military service members. Senator Pryor should explain why he supports that provision in the bill Tom Cotton opposed and how he believes that provision is constitutional.”
Ray noted that Pryor and Cotton both voted for the same final bill.
“Senator Pryor should be embarrassed by the ridicule this desperate and out of bounds attack ad is generating. This is not behavior becoming of a U.S. Senator. It’s time for a change,” he said.
When Pryor was asked by reporters if his TV ad was “fair,” since Cotton did vote for the bill that became law, the Senator said the ad was “fair and accurate.”
“It is accurate that when he had the chance, when it looked to everyone that there would be one chance to vote either for or against this, he voted against it,” Pryor said.
Pryor was asked if he had ever voted for or against a bill one time, then voted the opposite on an amended version. He also was quizzed on whether or not it would be fair to take those votes and use them in an ad to make a similar point.
“[V]ery seldom have I ever flip-flopped. It’s possible but I’d have to look back for 12 years. I can’t say that I never have done that, but I’m not aware of it,” he said.
Pryor used the press conference on Wednesday to highlight other votes he described as “a pattern” outside of the Arkansas mainstream.
“What we see with my opponent here is this is part of a pattern,” said Pryor noting Cotton’s votes against the Farm Bill, disaster relief and funding for Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
“The bottom line is in Congress — whether it’s in the House or the Senate — we have to understand the consequences of our votes. This is, I think, another sharp contrast between my opponent and me,” Pryor said.