As the House GOP leadership frantically searches for votes to pass Speaker John Boehner’s debt-ceiling proposal, 22 Republicans have said they will vote no, according to the Hotline’s whip count. A closer look reveals that they’re a different brand of maverick.
When the Democratic leadership scheduled tough votes in the 111th Congress, its toughest task was holding onto centrist members representing Republican-leaning districts. Of the 34 House Democrats who voted against health care reform in 2010, 24 were conservative Blue Dog Democrats. So were 28 of the 44 Democrats who voted against the cap-and-trade proposal that passed the House in 2009.
This year, the House Republicans most likely to desert their party have come predominantly from the safest GOP seats. Fifteen of the 22 planning to defy Boehner won their seats with at least 60 percent of the vote last year, and President Obama lost all but one of the districts—that of Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois—in 2008. For many, it wasn’t the first time they bucked their party leaders on fiscal issues: 18 of the 22 voted against at least two of the three stopgap funding bills offered earlier this year to keep the government from shutting down.
They have little to fear from Democratic challengers in November 2012. Rather, in their “safe” districts, these House Republicans face a different kind of pressure—from their right flank, which is pressing them to cut spending as fast and far as possible. They don’t fear a November challenge; they fear one in the primary—whether for their House seat or a higher office. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is trying to consolidate tea party support for her presidential run; Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, would like the same constituency if he decides to challenge Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Some tea party activists have criticized the Boehner plan as being too timid on spending cuts. This year’s rebels likely want to avoid being lumped with the speaker on this vote.
22 Republicans who said they will vote no on
Speaker John Boehner’s debt-ceiling proposal:
Connor Nelson contributed.