House GOP freshmen mirror longtime members on conservative budget amendment
The 87 freshman Republican members in the House have flexed their muscle thus far in the 112th Congress. This month they pushed through a resolution securing deeper budget cuts to keep the federal government funded. And they won key spots on House committees.
But when it came to a conservative amendment last week that would have enacted $22 billion in cuts on top of the $61 billion already proposed by House Republicans, the freshman largely mirrored their more-seasoned counterparts.
Sixty-eight percent of the House GOP freshman class voted for the Republican Study Committee's amendment, while 32 percent opposed it. That wasn't too far off from the votes cast by more veteran Republican members, who backed the amendment 58 percent to 42 percent.
The amendment failed the House on Friday on a 147-to-281 vote, with a total of 147 Republicans voting in favor and 92 opposed. In all, that meant that 61 percent of House Republicans backed the deeper spending cuts, while 39 percent rejected them.
The debate over the amendment, sponsored by the study committee chairman, Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and brought to the floor by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), revealed a public fissure among Republicans on how far to rein in federal spending. Roughly the same number of GOP House members spoke on the floor against the cuts as spoke in favor of them.
Even members of the GOP leadership were divided on the amendment, with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) voting against the measure and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Republican Caucus Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) voting in favor.
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), a freshman in the leadership, voted against the amendment, while Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), another freshman leader, voted for it.
The vote could be a marker of how far the freshman Republican class is willing to go to cut spending. Many of them were sent to Washington by voters angry with federal spending. Yet their votes on the RSC amendment indicate that the freshmen, like the rest of their House colleagues, have limits on how much to cut and how to do it. (Many of those speaking out against the RSC amendment last week objected to it because it was an across-the-board cut or because it would have included defense spending.)
The conservative Republican Study Committee has 176 members, or about 73 percent of the entire Republican caucus. Seventy-five of the 87 Republican freshmen are members. All told, among the 176 RSC members, 128 voted for the RSC amendment and 47 voted against it. One member, Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), was attending the funeral of his father-in-law and was not present to vote.
| February 25, 2011; 12:27 PM ET
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