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Vulnerables adding their names to bills sponsored by GOP

Vulnerable Democrats in both chambers have signed on to Republican-sponsored bills as they seek to boost their bipartisan credentials before the election.

With the midterms less than six weeks away, several Democrats returned to Washington last week and added their names to Republican proposals, many of which were introduced more than a year ago and have little chance of passing in the current Congress.

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Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) co-sponsored to a measure tweaking the Democratic healthcare law, as well as a controversial proposal to change immigration laws that grant “birthright citizenship” to anyone born on U.S. soil.

Rep. Gene Taylor (Miss.) is backing a full repeal of the healthcare law, becoming the first Democratic House member to do so.

And, in the upper chamber, Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSenate panel advances nominations for key Treasury positions Democrats blast Biden climate adviser over infrastructure remarks Colorado lawmakers invite Harris to tour state's space industry MORE (Colo.) decided last week to co-sponsor gun-rights proposals that had been sitting on the shelf since the middle of 2009.

Lawmakers add their names to proposed legislation throughout the year, and Democratic aides point out that each of the representatives has a long record of supporting GOP proposals. Yet the brief legislative session before the November election offers members a final chance to document their support for bills before voters head to the polls.

Republicans see a political tint to the campaign-season endorsements.

“The fact that these Democrats are seeking last-minute political cover proves that they’re seeing the writing on the wall about how disappointed voters are with the job-killing agenda of their party,” said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Democrats said the September sponsorships were consistent with a bipartisan voting record. “These aren’t ‘new’ positions as they head in to the election; they’re conservative Democrats doing conservative Democrat things,” a Democratic strategist said.

Boucher is running in a competitive race in southwest Virginia. He voted against the healthcare law in March, but on Sept. 14 he signed on to legislation sponsored by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) that would remove a provision in the law that requires businesses to report to the IRS any purchase valued at more than $600. The legislation was introduced in April. Democratic Reps. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Mark Critz (D-Pa.), who was elected to Congress after the healthcare law was passed, also signed on to the bill last week. Several other Democrats added their names shortly before the House left for recess at the end of July.

Boucher also last week became the second Democrat to endorse former Rep. Nathan Deal’s (R-Ga.) Birthright Citizenship Act, which would change immigration laws to require that a child born in the U.S. have at least one parent who is a citizen, a legal resident or serving in the military in order to gain birthright citizenship. The other Democratic co-sponsor, Taylor, signed on to the legislation when it was introduced in April 2009.

A spokeswoman for Boucher did not respond to a request for comment.

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Lincoln, whom polls show running behind GOP nominee Rep. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSenate GOP opens door to earmarks Arkansas governor quietly bucking GOP's dive into culture wars Trump allies line up ahead of potentially bruising primaries MORE in her reelection bid, touted her support for the Senate version of the GOP proposal to modify the small-business reporting requirement in the healthcare law, which she supported. “I supported the Johanns amendment because I recognize that the healthcare law is not perfect and I am committed to making improvements to the bill where we can,” Lincoln said in a statement last week.

She also signed on to a bill last week that would relax gun-control regulations. That bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate passes long-delayed China bill To address labor shortages, Congress should try a return-to-work bonus Some US billionaires had years where they paid no taxes: report MORE (R-Idaho), was introduced in April 2009. All but five of its 37 co-sponsors are Republicans. “Sen. Lincoln regularly works across party lines, and her voting record proves that she has been an independent leader for Arkansas,” Lincoln spokeswoman Marni Goldberg said. Lincoln added her name to several other Democrat-backed bills as well last week.

Bennet, a Democrat appointed to his seat in 2009 and seeking a full term this fall, became a co-sponsor last week of a bill introduced by Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissEffective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Live coverage: Georgia Senate runoffs Trump, Biden face new head-to-head contest in Georgia MORE (R-Ga.) to expand opportunities for hunting on federal land. He is one of three Democrats backing the legislation, which was proposed in June 2009. A Bennet spokesman, Adam Bozzi, said the senator “has co-sponsored countless Republican-supported bills dating back to his first days in office. Michael heard from Colorado sportsmen who discussed the merits of this bill and how it would benefit Colorado.”

“After listening to his constituents and researching the bill, he decided to sign on,” Bozzi said.

Democrats weren’t the only lawmakers crossing the aisle in September.

Rep. Charles Djou (Hawaii), a Republican in a tight race this fall, signed on to a bill sponsored by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) to enhance assistance to victims of domestic and sexual violence. A spokesman noted, however, that Djou won a special election just a few months ago in May and plans to endorse legislation right up until Election Day.


Hayleigh Colombo and Kwaku Duncan contributed to this article.