Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey (D-WI) comes from the day when reproductive rights were a controversial issue but not a partisan issue -- Republicans supporting reproductive rights were fairly easy to find, and Democratic opponents were just as common. Obey fell into the latter category. He stuck to his views even as the parties changed around him, scoring a 30% NARAL rating in 2003. (His name is pronounced like Obi-Wan Kenobi).
This is why it's really sweet to see him reversing his previous support of abstinence-based sex education and steering an elimination of abstinence-only funds through the Appropriations Committee. In an additional victory for rational public policy, the ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs was lifted.
Bonus fun Obey fact: He grew up a Republican, but became a Democrat during his high school years when he saw McCarthyites falsely accuse one of his teachers of being a Communist.
It's always kind of curious how people end up being of one party or the other (or end up being "other"). You never know how these things will play out.
This is good nice move on Obey's part, of course, but I think this is also a data point towards the general trend of greater and greater partisanship in the legislature; people's views are becoming more like that of people around them. Not that I think bullshit bipartisanship is a good thing or anything, but I think the heightening of differences between the parties leads to more gridlock. I don't think it is a coincidence that we have seen a sharp uptick in the use of the filibuster just as the parties' views on the issues have become more rigid.
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