I spent August visiting with people all over the 6th District — from town halls and chamber of commerce lunches to factory floors and medical facilities. I shook hundreds of hands and discussed dozens of topics, but the ones that came up the most were immigration reform, ObamaCare and the situation in Syria.

There was a spirited exchange of ideas at each stop, but for the most part we agreed. An overwhelming majority of people told me to defund ObamaCare and voiced their opposition to military intervention in Syria.

I returned to Washington last week ready to turn our conversations into votes, and then this quickly became the action packed week that wasn’t.

It started with the situation in Syria. As a diplomatic solution developed, the President made his case for a military strike during primetime while at the same time asking Congressional leaders to postpone scheduled votes. He didn’t change my mind or yours (judging by the calls and social media posts we received). A “surgical strike” is still a strike and it can have unintended repercussions.

Chemical weapons are terrible and I do not condone their use. However, when it comes to military action I turn to the Constitution and examine my conscience, in each case I remain unconvinced that it is in our national interest to get involved in Syria. I never got a chance to vote, but I want you to know where I stand.

The Syrians have tentatively agreed to hand over their chemical weapons to the international community. I will continue to monitor the situation, all the while remembering where you stand on the issue.

With that vote cancelled, the House turned its focus toward government spending. A plan was unveiled to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government, along with a House Concurrent Resolution to defund Obamacare that the Senate could vote to include or not include when passing the CR.

Translation: the Democrat controlled Senate would decide whether or not to fund ObamaCare.

It didn’t take long to realize this was nothing more than a gimmick – another case of Washington’s political trickery.  I told the House leadership that I couldn’t support this plan and I wasn’t alone. Echoing the thoughts of their constituents, conservatives rose up and loudly said “no.” It worked. Leadership quickly realized that this plan was going to fail and the vote was cancelled.

Work has begun on a new plan, one that will hopefully make good on my promise to you — to end ObamaCare.

The votes that weren’t proved that your opinion matters. After spending a month back home talking to the people who elected them, members came back and acted on what they heard.

Last week proves that sometimes the most important votes in Washington are the ones that never take place.


Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis/Arlington, represents the Sixth Congressional District of Texas.