Chavez-DeRemer appears ‘moderate’ but she’s anything but

April 12, 2023 5:30 am
Lori Chavez-DeRemer represents Oregon's 5th Congressional District

U.S. Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer represents Oregon’s 5th Congressional District. (Julia Shumway/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Oregon’s newly-redrawn Congressional District 5 has a new representative, Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who has started to cultivate the image of a reasonable, moderate member of the Republican party.

She is trying to reflect the “toss-up” character of the district, as Randy Stapilus said in a recent commentary. But anyone who closely follows both her statements and her actions can see that they are diametrically opposed. 

Chavez-DeRemer has made benign statements like, “(W)e as Americans have much more in common that unites us than divides us.” She has issued joint statements with Rep. Andrea Salinas, her Democratic colleague who represents the neighboring Sixth Congressional District (and with whom she serves on the Agriculture Committee) and has promised to collaborate on the farm bill. Chavez-DeRemer has touted her support for the bipartisan Student Loan Disclosure Transparency Act. 

But the truth is that Chavez-DeRemer is an ardent proponent of the culture war and economic issues that the MAGA GOP use to divide us:

  • She co-sponsored and voted for the innocuous-sounding, but insidious and divisive, “Parents Bill of Rights,” a bill that has been passed in various forms in GOP-controlled states like Florida and which has led to the censorship of our history and the banning of classic American literature from our schools.
  • She co-sponsored the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, an anti-transgender bill that would require that “sex … be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth” for the purposes of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.
  • She co-sponsored the “REINS Act,” a bill to delay or stop regulations for public health and safety, financial reform and worker protection, despite the frequent instance of events demonstrating the need for government oversight, such as the East Palestine railway disaster and recent bank failures.
  • She voted for the completely unnecessary and extremely divisive “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” a bill intended to weaponize women’s health care and intimidate health care providers. 
  • She voted to roll back the Biden administration’s long-awaited and desperately overdue climate legislation.
  • Despite her support for the Student Loan Disclosure Transparency Act, she is one of 126 GOP House members who signed an amicus brief opposing the Biden administration’s efforts to relieve a portion of the crushing burden of student debt.

Chavez-DeRemer’s stance on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP,  deserves extra scrutiny. After she issued a joint statement with Salinas pledging cooperation, Chavez-DeRemer co sponsored the “America Works Act,” a bill to increase the work requirements for SNAP (by far the largest program in the farm bill), which will effectively cut the spending for, and limit access to, SNAP benefits. This bill will have an even more negative effect on states such as Oregon, which operate under a work requirement waiver that Chavez-DeRemer’s legislation seeks to eliminate. Even though her constituents’ access to SNAP benefits has already been curtailed due to the expiration of emergency pandemic relief measures, Chavez-DeRemer seeks further cuts to this food security program, cuts that will harm the people she represents. Her position is extreme even in her own caucus, as she is one of only three Republicans from 18 GOP-held swing districts to co-sponsor the bill.

These are just a few of the extreme MAGA GOP positions that Chavez-DeRemer supports. Not surprisingly, she is endorsed by the National Rifle Association and National Right to Life. She has voted with the MAGA extremist election-denier, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, 88% of the time. 

But despite the lessons that should have been learned by pundits and journalists over the past years of widespread misinformation and disinformation, Chavez-DeRemer has succeeded in persuading some members of the mainstream media that she is someone other than who she really is. Their uncritical acceptance of her vapid pronouncements and meaningless gestures of reasonableness have helped her create a false and dangerous narrative.

Lori Chavez-DeRemer is not a “reasonable” or “moderate” member of the GOP. Despite her concerted efforts to create a more neutral image, we can clearly discern her extremist beliefs and actions. She is a full-on, committed MAGA GOP adherent who has shown that she will vote with her MAGA party leadership. Those of us unlucky enough to have her pretend to represent us deserve better. And we deserve to have the press report truthfully who she really is.

CORRECTION: Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is from Georgia. A previous version of this story misidentified the state she represents.

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Mary Chaffin
Mary Chaffin

Mary Chaffin is a retired lawyer who was a member of the state bars in Oregon and Washington state. She was general counsel of Accion International and Mercy Corps.