After running as a moderate Republican against liberal challenger Darcy Burner, a victorious Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA, 8) started off the new session on January 9 by voting the GOP party line against a women’s rights bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The legislation, which was carried by Democrats 247-171, overturned a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that had reinforced a 180-day window on salary discrimination claims. Supporters of the Ledbetter bill asserted that the 180-day window was too short for workers (women) to build a case against discriminating employers, a Catch-22 that acted as a barricade for sexism in the workplace.
Republican critics of the legislation say it could open small businesses to undue litigation in tough economic times.
The rest of Washington State's reps mostly voted along party lines on Ledbetter—five Democratic "yes" votes and two more Republican "no" votes. Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA, 3) abstained.
A week later, on January 14, Reichert bucked his party, voting to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a federal program that provides healthcare for children from lower-income families. The vote wasn’t a big surprise. His vote was consistent with his vote last session to override President Bush (an effort tha ultimately failed) when Bush vetoed CHIP expansion. Now, Obama says he will sign CHIP expansion.