NTK Fact Check: Is Bill Nelson an 'Independent Voice in Washington'? | NTK Network NTK Fact Check: Is Bill Nelson an ‘Independent Voice in Washington’?

NTK Fact Check: Is Bill Nelson an ‘Independent Voice in Washington’?

USA Today noted Thursday that Nelson describes himself an "independent voice in Washington," and looked into his voting record with President Trump. NTK Network has a different take.

By NTK Staff | 10.12.2018 @1:30pm
NTK Fact Check: Is Bill Nelson an ‘Independent Voice in Washington’?

THE CLAIM: “Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., often describes himself as an independent voice in Washington. … An independent review of Nelson’s voting record since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017 indicates that while he has opposed Trump on key issues including tax cuts, repeal of the Affordable Care Act and last week’s confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the three-term senator has supported the president more often than not – and more often than most of his Democratic colleagues.”

CHECKING THE CLAIM: USA Today took a look at Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-FL) claims of ‘independence’ in his closely-watched U.S. Senate race with Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL). USA Today seemed to balance Nelson’s major votes against Trump – on ObamaCare repeal and tax cuts, for example – with some votes Nelson (and many other senators) took with Trump.

NTK Network took its own look at Nelson’s record, and comes to a different conclusion than USA Today regarding Nelson’s claimed ‘independence.’

FiveThirtyEight is tracking key congressional votes with or against President Trump. On policy matters, Nelson has voted against President Trump on 31 of 48 policy votes (65 percent of the time).

Some of the policies Nelson has voted against:

  • The GOP tax cuts
  • ObamaCare repeal (straight repeal, skinny repeal, and the House-passed American Health Care Act)
  • Keeping government open in January 2018
  • The fiscal year 2018 budget resolution
  • A number of deregulatory efforts in Congress, supported by President Trump

Nelson also voted against both Neil Gorsuch’s and Brett Kavanaugh’s elevations to the Supreme Court.

More important, from an independence perspective, is Nelson’s record voting with and against Trump compared to his record of voting with and against President Obama. According to CQ’s Vote Studies, Nelson voted with President Obama an average of 98 percent of the time during Obama’s tenure.

Is voting with a Democratic president 98 percent of the time, but voting against a Republican president on policy matter two-thirds of the time, a record of independence? NTK Network examines below.


Nelson claims he’s an independent voice in Washington. USA Today balanced five Nelson votes with Trump against five Nelson votes against Trump. Four of the five votes with Trump, though, were relatively uncontroversial, bipartisan works in Congress. The five votes against Trump were on some of the key issues dominating headlines and Congress over the last two years. On the issues where partisanship and bipartisanship could really count, Nelson has voted against Trump almost every time.

Therefore, we rate Nelson’s claims of independence Fake News.

NOTE: NTK Network’s Fact Check scale ranges from “Very Fake News,” for the most egregious false claims, to “Fake News,” “Mostly Fake News,” and, for claims that check out, “Mostly Real News” and “Real News.”

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