By Russell Berman and Bernie Becker - 11/09/11 09:21 PM EST
Grover Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform, says it will not remove the names of House members who have disavowed its pledge to oppose tax increases.
Several Republican lawmakers and one Democrat have told The Hill they no longer feel bound to uphold Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which many of them signed more than a decade ago.
But Norquist is not letting them off the hook, insisting that all candidates were told at the time they signed the pledge that it bound them for the duration of their time in office, and not simply for a single term, as some lawmakers have contended. He said that candidates are sent the pledge and an accompanying question-and-answer sheet, which states that pledge-signers do not have to affirm the pledge when they seek reelection and that they “are bound for the duration of their tenure in the office to which they are elected.”
Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) are all listed on ATR’s website as signers of the pledge but told The Hill they considered the promise good for one term and accused the anti-tax group of deceptively suggesting they were signers “in the 112th Congress.” Andrews, who signed the pledge in 1992, is asking that his name be removed from the list. Several other House Republicans listed as signers also indicated they did not currently feel bound by the pledge.
Asked if ATR would remove those lawmakers, spokesman John Kartch said: “Any congressman who wants to tell his constituents that he lied his way into office is free to do so at any time. They were elected and re-elected promising their voters they would never raise taxes. ATR cannot change the facts or history.”
Earlier Wednesday, Norquist took Andrews to task on Twitter, writing in a pair of posts that “the tax pledge is promise [sic] to oppose tax hikes as long as one is in Congress. Not, until you change your mind. … but you know this because it was written down in Questions and Answers attached to pledge you signed.”
The centrist group No Labels on Wednesday applauded the GOP lawmakers who renounced the pledge. “No Labels commends lawmakers with the courage to cut ties to hyper-partisan interest groups and focus on solutions for all Americans,” said group co-founder Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).