House Republicans Vote for Popular Bills

Today’s WaPo fronts Jonathan Weisman’s “House GOP Shows Its Fractiousness In the Minority,” a shocking expose of some Republicans voting for some very popular programs being pushed by Democrats:

House Republican leaders, who confidently predicted they would drive a wedge through the new Democratic majority, have found their own party splintering, with Republican lawmakers siding with Democrats in droves on the House’s opening legislative blitz.

Freed from the pressures of being the majority and from the heavy hand of former leaders including retired representative Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), many back-bench Republicans are showing themselves to be more moderate than their conservative leadership and increasingly mindful of shifting voter sentiment. The closest vote last week — Friday’s push to require the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare — pulled 24 Republicans. The Democrats’ homeland security bill attracted 68 Republicans, the minimum wage increase 82.

I’m by no means a Roy Blunt fan but he’s absolutely right to note that, “The Democrats will soon move from these issues that poll at 80, 90 percent to issues that really matter.”

In the House, the majority party only fails to enact legislation pushed by its leadership if the Leadership screws up. When the outcome is a foregone conclusion, Members are always free to vote their conscience and/or the way that would be most appealing in their Districts. Conversely, the Majority Leadership will twist arms of their caucus very hard on bills where they need every single vote.

My guess, too, is that Republicans who vote with Democrats on bills that are more-or-less split along party lines will change their vote if necessary to sustain a veto. Failure to do that would be a sign of “fractiousness.” What we’ve seen so far is business as usual. Usually, “dog bites man” isn’t news, let alone front page news.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. lily says:

    The issues addressed by the House so far are issues that really matter. They certainly matter more that the crap the Republicans focused on during their last weeks.
    The Republicans in Congress are exhibiting classic bully behavior. When they had unrestricted power they arrogantly misused it. Now that they gotrebuked at the polls, they want to be all nice, nice.
    It is true that, as time goes by, the Democrats, the grown up party, will tackle the more complex,harder issues (like energy independence and global warming)that the Republicans have been ignoring or obstructing during their years in power. Then, I expect, the votes will be closer.

  2. floyd says:

    “”the Democrats, the grown up party””

    LILY; Typical democrat position. The government are the “grown-ups” and the people are relegated to the status of their “children”!I guess you don’t mind them making all your GROWN-UP decisions for you. They’ll take your paycheck and give you an allowance.

  3. An Interested Party says:

    It seems to me that the term “grown-up” was used in relation to the Republicans, not the American people…nice strawman, though, floyd…

  4. anjin-san says:


    As opposed to the Bush GOP, who have been taking our children’s and grandchildren’s future paychecks and giving them to Halliburton?