Longtime Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney and Jerrold Nadler are facing off in a Democratic primary next week for New York’s 12th District after their current districts, which each has represented for nearly 30 years, were redrawn into one. The state lost a seat during reapportionment following the 2020 census.
Maloney and Nadler have each ascended the ranks of the Democratic caucus throughout their careers. Maloney chairs the Oversight and Reform Committee, while Nadler leads the Judiciary Committee.
A third candidate, attorney Suraj Patel, is also seeking the nomination. Patel challenged Maloney in 2018 and 2020 and came within 4 points of her in the last cycle.
Maloney and Nadler have each taken thousands of votes throughout their careers. On votes that split the parties, they’ve been reliable Democrats. The lowest party unity score notched by either lawmaker, as calculated by CQ, was when Maloney hit 90 percent in 2001. Since 1993, Nadler has had the higher party unity score every year except for 2009 and 2018.
There have been times when, voting in the same chamber on the same bills and amendments, they disagreed, but they’re rare, especially on major legislation. From 1993 through last year, CQ Roll Call editors have identified 388 House roll calls as “key votes” that helped define that year’s action. And on 353 of them, Nadler and Maloney voted the same, while Maloney did not vote on five and Nadler did not vote on three.
Still, that leaves 27 on which Nadler’s and Maloney’s votes directly canceled each other out and a look at the positions they took may provide some insight into the way they approach the job.
Asked about the side-by-side disagreements, Maloney’s campaign chose to focus on their unity instead.
“Nobody wanted this primary but since it is happening, pulling out individual votes out of tens of thousands they have taken does not tell you much about two congressmembers who have worked together for so long,” Bob Liff, a spokesperson for Maloney, said in an email. “We are arguing that Carolyn is more effective, works harder for New York, has brought home $10 billion in federal assistance, and it is so critical in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision to send experienced, effective, tenacious women to Congress to lead the fight to restore women’s rights.”
A spokesperson for Nadler did not return a request for comment.
Both lawmakers are co-sponsors of legislation to implement “Medicare for All,” and of a resolution calling for the creation of a Green New deal, for example. But they have split on a handful of key votes, such as for authorization of the Iraq War, which have come up again in the campaign this summer. Here’s a look at nine of those votes.
1994: Crime bill
One of the first votes that split Republicans and Democrats on which Nadler and Maloney differed, Maloney voted for the 1994 crime bill while Nadler opposed it. The bill authorized funding for new prisons, instituted a 10-year assault weapons ban and included the Violence Against Women Act, among other things. Democrats split 188-64 on the measure.
2002: Defense budget increase
In May 2002, the House voted to authorize $383.4 billion for defense programs for fiscal 2003, including $7.3 billion for counter-terrorism programs months after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Maloney voted for the increase, while Nadler was one of 56 Democrats who did not.
2002: Iraq war authorization
One of the most often cited differences between the now-rivals was the authorization for the use of military force in Iraq in 2002. That measure, which remains in law, has been used to send troops into other conflicts. Maloney voted for authorization. Nadler voted against it. Overall, Democrats split on this vote, with 81 voting in favor of authorization and 126 voting against it.
2002: Bankruptcy overhaul
The House rejected a resolution to set up consideration of a conference report on a bankruptcy overhaul bill that would require debtors who were able to repay $10,000 or 25 percent of their debts over five years to file under Chapter 13, which would require a reorganization of debt under a repayment plan, rather than seeking to discharge their debts under Chapter 7. Ultimately, the measure failed because of Republican opposition over an abortion-related provision, while some Democrats said it didn’t do enough for low and middle-income earners who could be affected, according to reports from the time. Maloney voted in favor with 47 other Democrats, while Nadler was one of 155 who voted against it.
2006: Fence along U.S.-Mexico border
Before President Donald Trump began calling for a wall on the southern border, the House voted in 2006 on a bill that would authorize approximately 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border, part of a measure that would require the Department of Homeland Security to prevent the entry of terrorists, unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics and other contraband along international borders. Maloney voted in favor of the bill, while Nadler did not. Democrats split 64-131 on the vote.
2007: Prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation
In 2007, they split on a bill to prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation, with Maloney voting for it along with 199 other Democrats and Nadler one of 25 against it. Nadler explained his position in a statement that noted the bill did not extend protections to transgender people and split sexual orientation and gender identity.
2010: Prohibit transfer or release of prisoners from Guantanamo
The two differed on a 2010 motion to recommit the Fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill to add an amendment that would prohibit the use of funds authorized to transfer or release detainees from the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the country. Maloney voted for the measure, while Nadler voted against it. The measure passed with overwhelming Republican support, while Democrats were split 114-130.
2013: Yucca Mountain activities
Maloney voted against an amendment that would reduce the amount provided for activities at the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository by $25 million. It was offset by an increase of $25 million for Energy Department science activities. The House rejected the amendment, with Nadler one of 74 Democrats voting for it, while Maloney was one of 118 Democrats who voted against the amendment.
2017: Disciplinary action at the VA
The House voted to pass a bill that would expand the Department of Veterans Affairs’ ability to fire, demote and suspend employees for misconduct or poor performance. The bill, which passed 368-55, also established an office within the agency to receive whistleblower disclosures, track recommendations from authors and investors and investigate misconduct. Maloney voted in favor of the bill with 136 other Democrats, but Nadler was one of 54 Democrats to oppose it.