Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

House Marijuana Votes Earn Backing of Rare Bipartisan Coalition (Video)

UNITED STATES -Sept 12: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-CA., hams it up for the camera as Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist look on before the start of a news conference on the "fair taxation of marijuana businesses." on September 12, 2013.  (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Rohrabacher helped steer the medical marijuana amendment through the House. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a series of late-night votes that marijuana-rights advocates say reflect a nation’s changing attitudes, the Republican-controlled House moved early Friday  to block the federal government from interfering with state laws on pot and hemp.

The most far-reaching of the votes — a measure to cut funds for Drug Enforcement Agency raids on medical marijuana operations — passed 219-189 on the strength of an unusual coalition that cut across traditional partisan lines.

The medical marijuana measure was offered by conservative Republican Dana Rohrabacher of California as an amendment to the fiscal 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill. 

There were 49 Republicans who voted “yes” on the medical marijuana amendment, jointly sponsored by Rohrabacher; Sam Farr, D-Calif.; Don Young, R-Alaska; Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; Tom McClintock, R-Calif.; Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.; Paul Broun, R-Ga.; Jared Polis, D-Colo.; Steve Stockman, R-Texas; Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; Justin Amash, R-Mich.; and Dina Titus, D-Nev.

Of the 172 GOP “no” votes, five came from members of leadership: Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia,  Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Conference Vice Chairwoman Lynn Jenkins of Kansas and Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois.

Fourteen votes in opposition came from committee chairmen. They were:

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan
Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte of  Virginia
Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas
Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa of California
Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline of Minnesota
Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan Wisconsin
Ethics Chairman K. Michael Conaway of Texas
Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida
Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas of  Oklahoma
Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers of Kentucky
Rules Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas
Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce of  California
Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas
Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon of  California

The “no” votes from senior Republicans indicate that despite marijuana’s increasing embrace by the mainstream, the GOP establishment continues to bristle at the concept. It highlights just how difficult it could be for Congress in the near future to pass any more expansive legislation addressing marijuana legalization, at least as long as Republicans control the House. In fact, consideration of the amendment to the C-J-S appropriations measure was only made possible because the underlying bill was brought to the floor under an open rule, meaning that anybody could force an up-or-down vote on a germane amendment.

Rep. John Fleming, R-La., who said recently he would fight the District of Columbia’s decriminalization of marijuana, also voted “no,” along with fellow Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise, who serves as chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

Republican opposition votes even came from those who hail from Washington and Colorado, which legalized marijuana completely, and from California, which is one of 22 states with a robust medical marijuana program. California Republican Reps. to vote “no” included Paul Cook, Jeff Denham, Doug LaMalfa and David Valadao. Republicans from Colorado to rebuff the amendment were Cory Gardner, who is running for Senate, and Scott Tipton. Dave Reichert from Washington also voted “no.”

There were, however, some influential members among the 49 GOP lawmakers who voted “yes,” including one member of leadership: Republican National Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon.

Two committee chairman voted in favor of the amendment, too: Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings of Washington and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan.

In addition to Hastings and Rohrabacher, naturally, California Republicans Duncan Hunter and Tom McClintock also voted in favor of the amendment. So did Colorado Republican Mike Coffman.

Another notable vote for the provision was Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who is widely considered Scalise’s successor to run the RSC in the 114th Congress. His vote could be viewed in the same vein as that of Amash and Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie, two GOP members who have strong libertarian streaks.

Democrats, meanwhile, overwhelmingly voted in favor of the amendment — with some exceptions.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida gave the amendment a thumbs-down, as did three committee ranking members: Ways and Means Ranking Member Sander M. Levin of  Michigan, Agriculture Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson of  Minnesota and Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Texas, who serves as chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, also voted “no.”

A number of members from the fiscally conservative Blue Dog coalition were also among those who voted “no.” They included Reps. John Barrow of Georgia, Jim Cooper of Tennessee, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Pete Gallego of Texas, Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina.

Rahall and Peterson are also Blue Dogs.

In addition to the medical marijuana vote, an amendment prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp production laws passed with 237 “yes” votes. An amendment prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp research programs passed with 246 “yes” votes.

  • Jose

    44% of the House Republicans from Georgia voted for it. This is truly a new development.

    • Immortal Illumined

      georgia has been making moves this year…leading the south

  • Jose

    93% of House Republicans in Florida voted against it, unbelievable.

    • Layla

      Why? Because we don’t want to see our kids anymore strung out. Get a clue, Jose.

      • Jose

        Keep marijuana illegal so your kids can buy it without an ID, you sure are smart!

  • Nate505

    I like how this is being touted as “bipartisan” yet 91% of the nay votes are from the GOP. The fact that 22% of the GOP voted for it (and good for them BTW) makes this bipartisan? What the hell does that term mean in Washington anymore?

    • Immortal Illumined

      for every 1 GOP vote, they got 3.5 GOP votes against, lol

    • Layla

      It means the RINOs and the “lifers” need to be voted out. If this is what Rohrabacher is doing these days, it is long past time to retire him.

      • Stephen W. Houghton

        I am sorry you cant be a serious republican and conservative and be against marijuana legalization.

      • Nate505

        I hope your wish comes true, because I’m all for the GOP becoming irrelevant by catering to nothing but the bible bangers.

  • Immortal Illumined

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

    1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy…#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed…

    “any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death” – cali secret 420

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary….nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol…not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

    Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
    Deaths by Tobacco: Millions
    Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
    Deaths by Guns: Millions
    Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
    Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever…they are killing my American family while denying freedom

    love and freedom forever


    • Layla

      It’s a shame you and your 1000 friends and family are not in prison for preying on the misery of others.

      • Sandydog

        God Bless Layla.

  • Janet Innes-Kirkwood

    The US is in desperate need of reforming the criminal justice system. The over criminalization and war on drugs has left us as the most incarcerated people on the planet with 25% of the world’s prisoners. We are SWATing people over flowers and throwing flash grenades into their houses while babies lie sleeping and killing their dogs and terrifying their grandmothers. All while we militarize our police at great expense and declare war as a public health measure over a plant. The government alienates people when it knocks down their doors and steals their property and takes away their freedom and destroys their families because they as adults might want to treat their diseases or even just get intoxicated using an ancient plant that is less toxic than aspirin that actually can kill people. There also many documented abuses by agents of the DEA and those in task forces with them. This is know by all of these law makers and all these courts across this county. They are using the pretext of weed to spy on entire networks of people because they put Marijuana in the Patriot Act in order to be able to go after the opposition to them. Now they are destroying the evidence because they know that when it is deconstructed their crimes will be exposed. They are setting people up for destruction by manipulation. They are our public servants and we are supposed to be the masters.

  • ExVariable

    Ultimately, it is knowledge that is power:



    • Porkov

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  • Oscar’s Wilde

    Even though liberty and free enterprise are proven to be the most effective ways to unleash civilization’s advance, the natural uncertainty associated with them sometimes motivates insecure people to rebel against them.


    there are still more than 2.6 MILLION unemployed families, still without an EXTENSION of benefits, since LAST DECEMBER. The politicians have continued to play “party politics”, while families are becoming homeless and hopeless. The republicans have been holding the EXTENSION BILL hostage in the senate, for political leverage, and party agenda. Both party’s have deliberately delayed and postponed the vote until it’s become too late to pass the bill. Their total lack of COMPASSION and COMMON DECENCY is appalling . The extension bill was never in their plans to have passed. This entire situation was a farce on their part. With BILLIONS of tax payer dollars sent to the Ukraine in aid recently, NOTHING has been given to help the unemployed families to recover. Both political parties have been a disappointment and a disgrace. Americans need to VOTE OUT these political parasites from office.

  • Scot Chipping

    Patriots: It is time to go on the offensive against the illusions and superstitions of today’s liberals and progressives:

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  • richard40

    This illustrates how much the repub party is changing into a libertarian and federalism state automony direction, due to the influence of the tea party, and also due to obamas gross fed gov overeach. A measure like this, letting states decide on pot, and keeping the feds out of it, would never have gotten repub support during Bush.

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