A look at David Jolly’s congressional record

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Now that David Jolly is set to become a candidate for U.S. Senate, his GOP opponents: Ron DeSantis, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox (so far) will certainly be scrutinizing the Pinellas County Representative’s voting record in Congress, especially since he could be the man to beat in the open field, if you believe one early poll published last week.

A review of his 16 months in office shows a fairly consistent conservative voice on most issues – but definitely not all of them.

On issues like adding to the federal debt, Jolly is as hawkish as they come.

In late March, he joined up with only 16 other Republicans to approve the GOP’s approved budget, and slammed his colleagues for voting yes. “I have no interest in being part of a U.S Congress that I’m going to look back on one day and recognize that we actually increased the debt over the time of my tenure, not decrease it. We need candidates that share that commitment.”

However, he also voted against the Paul Ryan-crafted GOP House budget a year earlier, saying that he was keeping a campaign promise to his constituents not to tamper with Medicare, a no-no in a district filled with seniors.

Congress recently approved “fast track” legislation for the biggest trade deal in American history, the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). President Barack Obama now has authority to complete the TPP and present it to Congress for an expedited vote — no markup hearings, no amendments and a maximum 20 hours of debate.

He also showed a softening to his opposition to President Obama’s rapprochement to Cuba. Last month he sided with his Tampa Bay area colleague Kathy Castor in supporting an amendment by California Democrat Barbara Lee that would eliminate a measure that would restrict travel to Cuba. The measure failed in the GOP-led House.

Jolly opposed it, saying that the “process” for TPA approval was considered too quickly, and that he simply didn’t trust President Obama when it came to his “priorities” he might pursue in a multinational agreement.

The highlights in his first full year in office would  include co-sponsoring and getting passed an emergency VA bill to help with the embarrassing backlog issue, and successfully including language in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act that helps extend the federal authorization of the 50-year ongoing beach renourishment project in Treasure Island.

In terms of proposals, he’s introduced a flood insurance bill, a bill that is considered one the country’s largest commitments to youth safety (the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization), and combining with North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx on stopping political robocalls.

And he’s one of a very small minority of Congressional Republicans in Washington who support same-sex marriage. You can bet that if the election is close next summer, any or all of Jolly’s Republicans opponents won’t be shy about mentioning that.

Let’s not forget he also sponsored one of our favorite bills ever – legislation that would require that Congress work a full, five-day a week schedule.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.