Would House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan really have voted against reopening the government and lifting the debt cap if the measure’s outcome had been in doubt and his fellow Republican chieftains needed more help to free the party of what had become a political deadweight?
As it turned out, of course, Ryan and others didn’t have to confront that question. En masse backing from House Democrats meant that only a fraction of GOP support was required for the bill to easily win approval, so some Republicans got a free pass to oppose it last week.
In Ryan’s case, for instance, presidential politics may have come into play. With Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio already having cast ballots against the legislation when it arrived in the House, Ryan may have calculated it was pointless to create a political difference that he might have to explain to this trio on a debate stage in the 2016 presidential primary season.
So on some levels, there may be less than meets the eye in a roll call that saw only 87 House Republicans vote for the reopening/debt ceiling bill while 144 said “nay.” Still, we felt compelled to crunch some numbers, and what’s thrown in bold relief is the willingness of the newer members of the GOP caucus to buck their leaders and keep charting a confrontational course:
* Just more than half of the “no” votes – 74, or 51 percent– came from those first elected in 2010 or 2012. The famed class of ’10, which gave Republicans the House majority, accounted for 50 of those votes, with the other 24 coming from the class of ’12.
* Members of these two classes comprised just 36 percent of their party’s ”yes” votes, with 23 of those cast by those first elected in ’10 and 8 by those who took office after last year’s elections.
* Members of the legendary class of ’94 — the wave that gave Republicans control of the House for the first time in 40 years and spurred shutdowns in late 1995 and early 1996 — are not only few in numbers these days, but also decidedly more conciliatory than their newer brethren. Of the eight still in office and who have held their seats continuously, five supported reopening the government, three opposed it.
* Among the House Republicans from the 11 Southern states that made up the Confederacy — which, after all, had some experience in disrupting the Union — 75 voted against the accord that ended the shutdown, 28 for it.
* Discounting those states with a single GOP representative, Republicans in the following delegations were unanimous in opposing the reopening/debt ceiling bill: Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
* Again setting aside the single-representative states, those delegations in which Republican coalesced behind the reopening bill were Arkansas, Nebraska, Washington state and West Virginia.
* House Speaker John Boehner, in finally acquiescing to end the standoff that polls show so damaged his party, couldn’t get unanimity from those who are supposed to march shoulder-to-shoulder with him. True, his two top lieutenants — Majority Leader Eric Cantor and and Whip Kevin McCarthy — joined him in voting to reopen the government. But among the five others with lesser posts who are pictured on the ”leadership” page on the GOP.gov website, only two did likewise — Reps. Cathy McMorris Rogers of Washington state and Lynn Jenkins of Kansas. Breaking with Boehner to vote against the bill were Reps.Greg Walden of Oregon, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma.