That's how sudden Republican Rep. Parker Griffith (AL) explained his decision to switch parties and become the House's newest Republican lawmaker, citing concerns that the Democratic House leadership is pushing bad legislative initiatives that spend too much and clash with his "values and convictions," plus more GOP support for NASA and Dept. of Defense programs that carry a lot of economic weight in his district.
In his statement announcing his switch to the GOP this afternoon, Griffith basically adopted the Republican line of attack on Democratic-supported initiatives: that Democrats' big plans involve too much government spending and would increase debt. A medical doctor himself, Griffith called the Democratic health reform bill "bad for our Doctors, our patients and will have unintended consequences far beyond what we know today."
"I take this step because I believe our nation is at a crossroads and I can no longer align myself with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy and drives us further and further into debt," Griffith said.
"After watching as Congress continues to pursue policies that burden our children with debt and threaten our economy -- and as someone who is deeply concerned about the future of this country I believe that joining with the Republican Party and standing up against these liberal policies is what is best for our country and best for Alabama," he said.
Perhaps more significantly, Griffith cited greater Republican support for Defense and NASA programs; his northern Alabama district is home to NASA's Mashall Space Flight Center, as well as an Army airfield and Boeing and Northrop Grumman facilities, meaning the defense industry has accounted for thousands of jobs in the district.
Full statement below:
It has been an immense pleasure to serve the 5th congressional district of Alabama this last year. As most of you know, I was elected by the people of North Alabama as an INDEPENDENT, CONSERVATIVE, congressman. I am pro-business, pro-life, pro-second amendment and have worked hard to support our space and defense programs and represent our Alabama values. However, as the 111th Congress has progressed I have become increasingly concerned that the bills and policies pushed by the current Democratic Leadership are not good for North Alabama or America -- and more importantly they do not represent my values and convictions.
While I voted against Health Care, Cap and Trade and two huge spending Stimulus bills I now believe that I have to go further and stand with a party that is more in tune with my beliefs and convictions. For that reason I am announcing today that I am joining the Republican Conference immediately. This was not an easy decision for me and I only arrived at this step after much thought, discussion with my family and personal prayer. I take this step because I believe our nation is at a crossroads and I can no longer align myself with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy and drives us further and further into debt.
Unfortunately there are those in the Democratic Leadership that continue to push an agenda focused on massive new spending, tax increases, bailouts and a health care bill that is bad for our healthcare system. I have always considered myself to be an independent voice and I have tried to be that voice in Congress -- but after watching this agenda firsthand I now believe that the differences in the two parties could not be more clear and that for me to be true to my core beliefs and values I must align myself with the Republican party and speak out clearly on these issues.
I have also been very concerned about support in Congress for our Defense and NASA programs. These programs are not only important to our community they are critical for the future of our nation. Since election to Congress I have fought hard to educate other members on the importance of a strong National Missile Defense program and that we must give our NASA programs more support if we are to maintain our lead in space. And while there are some great Democratic supporters of these programs I increasingly find that my allies in fighting for these initiatives come from within the Republican Party. As we move forward and continue to fight for these programs I believe that working as a Republican -- and joining with Richard Shelby, Jeff Sessions, Robert Aderholt, Jo Bonner, Mike Rogers and the rest of our delegation will allow me to be an even more effective voice on these issues.
I also want to take a moment to discuss the HealthCare legislation currently before Congress. As you know -- I am a physician and understand our Healthcare system. I spoke out early and often about my opposition to this healthcare bill and voted against it in the House. It appears today that this healthcare bill will pass the Senate and that one of our first votes in the New Year will be on this Healthcare package. I want to make it perfectly clear that this bill is bad for our Doctors, our patients and will have unintended consequences far beyond what we know today. As a Doctor and as a Republican I plan to once again oppose this measure and hope that we can defeat this bill that is a major threat to our nation. I know there will be those who do not support my decision.
I want you to know that it is not an easy decision to make. But I always remember that I was not sent to Congress to represent a political party -- I was sent to represent the people, the values and the future of North Alabama. After watching as Congress continues to pursue policies that burden our children with debt and threaten our economy -- and as someone who is deeply concerned about the future of this country I believe that joining with the Republican Party and standing up against these liberal policies is what is best for our country and best for Alabama.