After Calling Out Charlie Baker, Seth Moulton Dials It Back

The freshman congressman won't call out his Massachusetts colleagues by name.

Rep. Seth Moulton (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

Rep. Seth Moulton (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

Rep. Seth Moulton has had quite the week.

On Tuesday, the freshman congressman called out Gov. Charlie Baker not long after he said he was not a fan of welcoming more Syrian refugees into Massachusetts.

“I’m not interested in accepting refugees from Syria. I would need to know a lot more than I know now before I agree to do anything,” said Baker earlier this week.

Moulton took to social media to issue his first salvo:

And from there it was off to the races, as Moulton referenced the governor again and again and again and again. On Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show Tuesday night, Moulton ripped officials who want to bar Syrian refugees from entering the United States.

“Shutting the door on the very people whom ISIS is trying to target is playing right into the enemy’s hands. It’s un-American, it’s immoral, and it’s not going to lead to the defeat of ISIS,” said Moulton on the show.

On Thursday, the Boston Globe ran a glowing column aimed at Moulton’s critics about how he took in an Iraq War translator as a refugee when he returned to his Marblehead home. Moulton, a decorated Iraq War veteran, helped the translator with the refugee application process, but it still took a whopping 16 months for the man to get his application approved, even though he worked with the Marines and is in the country on a Fulbright scholarship.

Commonwealth Magazine even speculated that the dustup between Baker and Moulton was a preview of the 2018 gubernatorial race.

Later in the day, however, two congressmen from Massachusetts, Rep. Bill Keating and Rep. Stephen Lynch, joined 289 other members of Congress, including 45 Democrats, and voted in favor of a Republican-sponsored bill that will make it extremely difficult for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the country. The bill passed with a veto proof majority and is opposed by the rest of the Massachusetts delegation.

The vote in congress, unlike Baker’s mostly symbolic comments, has actual meaning. The federal government, not states, has the final say on immigration and refugee policy. Governors can do pretty much nothing to block immigrants and refugees from entering their states.  So, one would expect Moulton to come out strongly against the actions of his two colleagues from the Bay State, right? Well, that’s not what happened.

Moulton’s office issued this statement to Boston when asked if he planned to call out his fellow Massachusetts Democratic congressmen for their meaningful votes:

“The Paris attacks underscore the need to defeat—not just contain–ISIS. Yet shutting the door on Syrian refugees who are fleeing the very terrorists we’re fighting is inconsistent with our values and will not help us defeat ISIS. 

“I fully support increasing the security and effectiveness of the refugee program, but the bill on the floor today was not a serious effort to do so. It was a counterproductive measure that would add needless red tape to an already strong process.”

Moulton and his office repeatedly insisted the plight of Syrian refugees is not a partisan issue, but he appears to be mixed on this in practice. He’s working closely with Rep. Steve Russell, a Republican from Oklahoma, on the issue of refugee resettlement. Russell voted in favor of the Syrian refugee bill Thursday. The two veterans are set to meet next week to talk about the vetting process, according to staff. Meanwhile, Moulton appears very reluctant to castigate his fellow Massachusetts Democrats for actions far more troubling than those of the state’s Republican governor.