Just 91 House Republicans voted with every Democrat to keep the government open after midnight Wednesday — that’s three out of every eight members of the conference.
It could have been that the 151 GOP opponents felt free to snub the continuing resolution — which didn’t contain language defunding Planned Parenthood — knowing Democrats were prepared to make up for the shortfall.
But it could signal trouble ahead of the Dec. 11 deadline to pass a longer-term spending measure, which must adhere to higher spending caps lest it run into the veto pen of President Barack Obama, who has pledged not to sign any “omnibus” that doesn’t replace sequestration.
It could also be a warning to the ambitious lawmakers who want to move up in the leadership ranks after Speaker John A. Boehner steps down next month: The task of funding government while keeping members happy will not be easy.
Members who voted against the CR will surely want to know where leadership candidates stood on the matter.
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who is the favorite to succeed Boehner as speaker, voted for the bill, along with Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who wants to be the majority leader, and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, who wants to be whip. Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, who is also said to be eyeing a bid for whip, voted “yes” as well.
Those who voted “no” included Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia, who is running for majority leader, and Rules Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas, who also running for whip. Rep. Dennis A. Ross of Florida might also be running for whip, and he, too, voted against the CR.
Meanwhile, Democrats, who have been gloating about the reasons behind Boehner’s resignation all week, were similarly jubilant that on Wednesday they could claim credit for directly helping to avoid a government shutdown.
“Tonight, 151 Republicans voted to shut down government rather than allow women to access affordable family planning and life-saving preventative health care,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in a statement. “One-hundred and fifty one Republicans decided their obsession with women’s health was more important than the thousands of disabled veterans, disadvantaged children and working families who would pay the price of another government shutdown.”
Though the speaker does not typically vote on legislation, Boehner has been known to pitch in with his voting card when an extra “yes” could make the difference, or send a strong statement.
On Wednesday, he did not cast any vote.