We’ve all been there. One minute you’re minding your own business, voting on laws and whatnot, and the next minute—boom!—you’re green-lighting a nuclear weapons program for President Trump.
That’s what happened last week to U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, of Massachusetts, apparently. In a tweet on Friday, the congressman explained that he voted the wrong way on an amendment that would have curbed the Trump administration’s pursuit of new submarine-launched nuclear weapons by accident. It was “an honest mistake,” he wrote.
The admission came after someone called him out on Twitter for his vote against the measure. “Why on earth did
@RepJoeKennedy vote with Republicans to give Donald Trump the more ‘usable’ nuclear weapons that he’s disturbingly craving?! This is not how progressive champions should be voting!” wrote Stephen Miles, director of the progressive group Win Without War
“You’re right,” Kennedy wrote in response. “Meant to vote yes — it was an honest mistake on my part. There is no need for these weapons. Keep up your advocacy.”
You’re right. Meant to vote yes — it was an honest mistake on my part. There is no need for these weapons. Keep up your advocacy @SPMiles42.
— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) June 8, 2018
The vote in question was for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act filed by Rep. Barbara Lee to counter an effort at the Pentagon to equip submarines with new “low-yield” nuclear weapons. The amendment was struck down by a mostly party-line vote of 177 to 241. Only 15 Democrats, including Kennedy, voted against it. It was out of character for Kennedy, who votes against Trump’s priorities as often as just about every other member of Congress.
It’s not clear exactly what kind of mistake Kennedy might have made. You can vote in one of two ways in the House of Representatives. An electronic system involves pushing a button at a voting booth after inserting an ID card. The other involves using color-coded paper. A spokesman for Kennedy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mistakes with the electronic system, which debuted in 1973 and was updated in 2004, have happened scores of times in the past. According to a tally from the New York Times in 2014, there were 112 documented cases of someone in Congress voting the wrong way by accident since 2012.
For his part, Miles, the anti-war advocate, says he forgives Kennedy for the blunder. “Thanks, Congressman,” he wrote on Twitter. “Mistakes happen!”
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