Many Existing and Would-Be GOP Leaders Opposed Budget Deal

Two 2016 hopefuls — Rubio, center, and Cruz, right — voted against the deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Two 2016 hopefuls — Rubio, center, and Cruz, right — voted against the deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted October 17, 2013 at 12:02pm

All of the congressional Republicans with viable 2016 presidential ambitions voted against the bill enacted overnight to reopen the government and increase federal borrowing. So did two members of the Senate GOP leadership and three members of the party’s House leadership. The opponents also included a majority of the Republicans who are chairmen of House committees and most of the members of the House GOP caucus who aspire to election to the Senate next year.

While the Democrats were unified in their support for the legislation, a review of Wednesday night’s back-to-back roll calls in Congress reveals just how divided the titular and putative leaders of the GOP remained after their crusade to undermine Obamacare by shutting down the government and threatening default came up essentially empty-handed — but nonetheless spawned a serious erosion of public support for the party’s current course.

In the House, only 38 percent of Republicans supported the legislation, despite efforts during the evening to assemble the sort of narrow “majority of the majority” that would have given Speaker John A. Boehner some degree of face-saving comfort

In the Senate, by contrast, only 39 percent of the Republicans opposed a deal that was assembled by their floor leader Mitch McConnell, along with Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The four member of Congress who are considered serious contenders for the Republican presidential nomination all opposed the stopgap bill: Ted Cruz of Texas, who almost singlehandedly propelled the party’s confrontational strategy farther than many GOP leaders planned to take it; his Senate colleagues Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky; and House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the party’s 2008 candidate for vice president, who this morning helped to open the formal negotiations called for under the deal toward some sort of deficit reduction — or at least sequester modification — agreement in the next two months.

The top Senate GOP budget negotiator, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, was among the 18 “no” votes in that chamber, as was the party’s ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama. The other most powerful dissenters in that caucus were Minority Whip John Cornyn, who in the run-up to his re-election campaign in Texas next year is under significant pressure to echo Cruz’s fiscal views, and the chief deputy whip, Michael D. Crapo of Idaho.

The members of the GOP leadership who broke with Boehner were Republican Policy Committee Chairman James Lankford of Oklahoma, Conference Secretary Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and, perhaps most notably, Greg Walden of Oregon, who as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee is in charge of recruiting and underwriting the party’s House candidates in the 2014 midterms.

A dozen of the 21 committee chairmen also spurned the bill. In addition to Ryan, the most notable among them is Jeb Hensarling of Texas, who holds the gavel at Financial Services but was the House GOP chairman of the 2011 supercommittee that failed in its search for a budget deal that would have prevented the across-the-board spending cuts that took hold in March.

The others were Mike Conaway of Texas (Ethics), Sam Graves of Missouri (Small Business), Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia (Judiciary), Frank D. Lucas of Oklahoma (Agriculture), Michael McCaul of Texas (Homeland Security), Jeff Miller of Florida (Veterans Affairs), Candice S. Miller of Michigan (House Administration) , Ed Royce of California (Foreign Affairs), Pete Sessions of Texas (Rules) and Lamar Smith of Texas (Science).

The four members running for the Senate who voted “no” were Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, who is expected to mount a serious challenge to Democrat Mary L. Landrieu’s bid for a fourth term, and all three Georgians vying for the GOP nomination for that state’s open seat: Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston.

The two Senate aspirants who voted “yes” were Shelly Moore Capito, the front-runner for West Virginia’s open seat, and freshman Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who decided not to differentiate himself on this matter from incumbent Mark Pryor, his opponent in what’s likely to be one of 2014’s hottest contests.

Since every Democratic vote was a “yes,” that means the deal got support from both the party’s House members who are seeking open Senate seats, Gary Peters of Michigan and Bruce Braley of Iowa. It also goes for all of the two-dozen or so Democrats who look at least somewhat vulnerable to losing their House seats next year.

But the bill also won the support of 18 of the 22 House Republicans who, at this still relatively early stage, look most vulnerable to defeat in next year’s general election — a reflection of the political reality that the independents who decide close elections have no use at all for the gridlock that has resulted from the pursuit of ideological purity. The dissenters were all members of the class of tea party conservatives who helped the GOP take back the House in 2010: Tom Reed of New York, Steve Southerland II of Florida, Jeff Denham of California and Bill Johnson of Ohio.