I wish I could stop writing about Andy “Handgun” Harris, but he won’t let me. First, he voted against the bipartisan bill to establish a commission to investigate the events of January 6. Then he voted against legislation responding to the increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans. With that second vote, I feel obligated to speak out. This man is not representing me. He votes incorrectly with a remarkable consistency.
Harris’ vote against the bipartisan commission was predictable. Andy is in Donald Trump’s pocket. A commission report that definitively established Trump’s role in inciting the January 6 insurrection would be devastating to him. More of his already dwindling group of supporters would throw in the towel. Worse yet, for Trump, the report could prompt civil or criminal actions tied to what he did on January 6 and the days preceding it.
Trump calls the shots for Andy on anything to do with stolen elections or the need to stamp out democracy. Do voters in the First District care about these issues? Are you aware of any listening session or other effort by Harris to determine how his constituents feel about investigating January 6?
More disturbing to me is Andy’s no vote on the hate crimes bill. In fairness, he was joined by 61 other Republicans, including QAnon follower Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), alleged sex-trafficker Matt Gaetz (R-FL), gun advocate Lauren Boebert (R-CO), right-wing dentist Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and a host of other Tea Partiers, Trumpers, and lunatics.
The bill, officially called the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, passed the Senate in April by a vote of 94-1. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley (R) was the only dissenting vote. You may remember him as the guy who fist-pumped January 6 rioters as they approached the Capitol. Mr. Hawley plans to run for President in 2024 and, if Trump himself is not running (perhaps because he is incarcerated), he is an attractive choice for Trump’s endorsement.
According to The Washington Post, “The legislation would assign an official in the Justice Department to review and expedite all reports of hate crimes related to the coronavirus, expand support for local and state law enforcement agencies responding to these hate crimes, and issue guidance on mitigating the use of racially discriminatory language to describe the pandemic.”
Are there provisions in S. 937 that most of us on the Eastern Shore are against? I don’t think so. So why did Andy Harris vote no? The answer is that he is a rigid idealogue who could care less about the Asian Americans who are getting killed, beaten-up and otherwise harassed across the country.
House Republicans had little difficulty explaining their no votes. Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) offered, “You can’t legislate away hate.” Maybe he’s right, but shouldn’t we try?
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), one of ex-president Trump’s strongest supporters, offered, “This violence, by and large, is happening in Democrat-controlled cities, many of which, interestingly enough, have defunded their police department.” He appears to have voted against the bill because of his view that the violence is occurring in “Democrat-controlled” cities. Is his vote intended to punish Democrats? Or is he trying to support his belief that police should not be defunded?
A search for a statement or explanation by Handgun Harris produced nothing. No tweets, no press releases, nothing.
If you are Asian American and living in the First District, you are, like the rest of us, left to guess why Harris voted no. That is wrong. Importantly, it would be unfair to Harris to suggest that he is indifferent to the violence against Asian Americans. It is not unfair to ask him who he thinks he is representing in Congress.
Had Donald Trump publicly urged his followers to vote for the bill, how do you think Andy would have voted?
The Eastern Shore not only deserves better representation in Congress, but we also desperately need it. As far as many of us are concerned, we would be better off with Andy’s seat left vacant.
J.E. Dean of Oxford is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, birds, and occasionally goldendoodles.