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Meet the lawmakers who bucked their parties on the Democratic coronavirus response bill

14 Democrats voted against the bill while one Republican supported it

Oklahoma Rep. Kendra Horn was one of 14 Democrats — nearly all of whom are facing tough reelection battles this year — who opposed a $3 trillion bill Friday designed by party leaders to provide relief for the coronavirus pandemic.
Oklahoma Rep. Kendra Horn was one of 14 Democrats — nearly all of whom are facing tough reelection battles this year — who opposed a $3 trillion bill Friday designed by party leaders to provide relief for the coronavirus pandemic. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Some of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House — and one liberal Democrat from a safe seat — broke with their party Friday as the House narrowly passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief measure that was meant to demonstrate how the party would handle the crisis. 

The 208-199 vote included only one Republican “yea” vote, a sign of the deepening politicization of the response. 

Democrats who voted against the 1,800-page measure include 10 who represent districts Trump won in 2016. They called the bill too broad and too partisan. 

The division could complicate Democrats’ attempts to message around the bill, which was so expansive that Democratic strategists told CQ Roll Call they worried that Republicans could use it to cherry-pick sections for attacks.

Here’s a breakdown of the votes:

Moderate Democrats who voted ‘no’ 

Iowa Rep. Cindy Axne

Axne decried the Democratic bill as “Washington gamesmanship” that included “unrelated wastes of taxpayer dollars.” She is one of 30 Democrats defending seats Trump carried in 2016. Trump won her 3rd District in southwest Iowa, which includes Des Moines, by 4 points in 2016. Axne defeated former GOP Rep. David Young by 2 points in 2018. Young is running again, but Axne has a financial advantage in the race, with nearly $2.5 million in her campaign account on March 31, to Young’s $1 million. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Toss-up

South Carolina Rep. Joe Cunningham

Cunningham called the bill a “partisan wish list” and “Washington politics at its worst.” He added, “At a time when our country is in real trouble, we should not be spending precious time on one-sided solutions that aren’t going anywhere.” Cunningham won his Charleston-area 1st District seat in 2018 by just 1 point after Republican incumbent Mark Sanford had lost in a primary. Trump carried the district by 11 points. Cunningham signaled he was not concerned about political attacks for opposing the bill, telling reporters at the Capitol, “Politics doesn’t factor into this. It’s about doing what’s best for our district.” Inside Elections rates Cunningham’s race a Toss-up.

Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids

A mixed martial arts fighter who is also gay and Native American, Davids showed off her skills hitting a punching bag in 2018 campaign commercials and beat Rep. Kevin Yoder in the 3rd District by 10 points. Since arriving in Washington, however, she has kept a relatively low profile, while raising more than $2.7 million, of which she had $1.9 million on hand on March 31. Hillary Clinton carried her district by just over 1 point in 2016, but Mitt Romney won the seat by 10 points four years earlier. Inside Elections rates the race Lean Democratic.

Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer

Trump carried Finkenauer’s 1st District in northeast Iowa by 4 points. Finkenauer unseated former GOP Rep. Rod Blum by 5 points two years later, but Republicans are excited about their recruit to take her on in 2020, state Rep. Ashley Hinson. Inside Elections rates Finkenauer’s race Tilt Democratic.

Maine Rep. Jared Golden

Golden, who represents a district that Trump won by 11 points, has previously bucked his party, sort of. He voted against one of the two articles of impeachment. A Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Golden had $1.7 million in cash on hand as of March 31. Inside Elections rates his reelection race as Tilt Democratic.

Oklahoma Rep. Kendra Horn

Horn has topped CQ Roll Call’s latest list of most vulnerable House members all cycle. “Messaging bills without bipartisan support are a disservice to the American people, especially during a time of crisis,” she said in a statement. Horn is the first Democrat to represent her Oklahoma City-area seat since the mid-1970s. Trump’s 14-point margin in the district was one of his biggest of the 30 Democratic-held seats he carried in 2016. Inside Elections rates the race a Toss-up

Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb

In March 2018, Lamb won a high-profile special election in a district Trump carried by 20 points. But Pennsylvania was forced to redraw its congressional lines when the state Supreme Court determined the existing map was a partisan gerrymander. So Lamb ran for a full term in a newly drawn neighboring district, which would have backed Trump by 3 points under the new lines. Lamb defeated GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus by 13 points, but he could face a more competitive race in 2020 given the makeup of his western Pennsylvania district. Inside Elections rates the race Likely Democratic.

Virginia Rep. Elaine Luria

The former Navy commander is another Democrat in a district Trump carried. He won the 2nd District by 3 points, and Luria unseated GOP Rep. Scott Taylor by 2 points in 2018. Luria could face a rematch against Taylor in 2020. Inside Elections rates the race Lean Democratic.

Utah Rep. Ben McAdams

McAdams was one of the first members of Congress to get seriously ill with the virus. (South Carolina’s Cunningham was also infected but had milder symptoms). As thousands of people are sick and millions are out of work, we need a recovery strategy that opens up business and gets people back to work,” he said on Twitter. “Republicans and Democrats must come together on a plan to put this crisis behind us.” McAdams won his seat by less than half a point in 2018. Trump carried it by 7 points in 2016. Inside Elections rates the race a Toss-up

Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader

He is a member of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the group’s political arm. Unlike his other moderate colleagues, Schrader is not expected to face a competitive race in November. Hillary Clinton carried his 5th District by 4 points in 2016 and Schrader won reelection two years later by 13 points. Inside Elections rates his race Solid Democratic. 

Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger

Spanberger is one of the moderate Democrats with national security backgrounds whose support helped launch the impeachment inquiry last year. This time, though, she is comfortable bucking her party.  “Unfortunately, many Members of Congress — including some in my own party — have decided to use this package as an opportunity to make political statements and propose a bill that goes far beyond pandemic relief and has no chance at becoming law, further delaying the help so many need,” she said in a news release. Spanberger won her seat in the Washington, D.C., exurbs by 2 points in 2018. Trump carried it by 7 points in 2016. Inside Elections rates the race Tilt Democratic

New Mexico Rep. Xochitl Torres Small

Torres Small ranked No. 2 on CQ Roll Call’s latest list of most vulnerable House members. “Hard times call for strong priorities, and Congress should put aside partisan politics to rebuild through smart infrastructure investments,” she said in a statement after the vote, adding that she supported relief to states, local communities and tribal governments and hazard pay for essential workers, but more than $1 trillion in the bill “was spent elsewhere.” Torres Small’s rural New Mexico district voted for Trump by 10 points in 2016. A former water rights lawyer, she won by 2 points in 2018 and is a top Republican target in 2020. Inside Elections rates her 2nd District race Tilt Democratic

Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild

The freshman congresswoman won an open-seat race in 2018 by 10 points, but her reelection could still be competitive given the nature of her district, which includes Allentown. If the new Pennsylvania congressional lines had been in place in 2016, Hillary Clinton would have carried the 7th District by just 1 point. Inside Elections rates the race Solid Democratic

Progressive Caucus Co-Chairwoman: Bill didn’t go far enough

Just one liberal member of the House Democratic Caucus — Washington’s Pramila Jayapal — voted against the measure because it did not go far enough in responding to the crisis. Compared to her more moderate colleagues, Jayapal isn’t facing tough competition in November since she represents a deep-blue Seattle-area district. Inside Elections rates her race Solid Democratic.

Jayapal, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement before the vote, “At the core, our response from Congress must match the true scale of this devastating crisis. The Heroes Act — while it contains many important provision — simply fails to do that.” She said the bill did not do enough to guarantee paychecks, health care or relief for businesses. 

Lone Republican ‘yes’ vote

New York Rep. Peter T. King was the only Republican to support the measure. He told CQ Roll Call off the House floor Friday night that he was supporting the bill because it included funding for state and local governments after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had said struggling states should consider filing for bankruptcy.

“I don’t trust McConnell,” King said. “I want to have something sitting in the Senate that is a marker.”

The 14-term congressman, who is not running for reelection this year, also noted that his Long Island-based district has been hit hard by the pandemic, with more than 20,000 reported coronavirus cases.

“I didn’t expect to be going out my final year fighting with the leadership,” King said. “If you have to do it, you have to do it.”

King has bucked his party in the past, supporting gun control legislation that expanded background checks and voting against the GOP tax bill in 2017.

Democrats are eyeing his open 2nd District seat as a potential pickup opportunity. Trump carried district by 9 points. Inside Elections rates the race Lean Republican.

Kate Ackely and Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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