Know Your Caucuses: Parsing the Budget Votes

Last Thursday and Friday were a busy couple of days in the House, with the passage of Paul Ryan’s Medicare-eviscerating budget and the defeat of a panoply of other budget options, including Democratic alternatives and a seriously dystopian proposal from the Republican Study Committee (the ideological caucus that once was the House Republicans’ extreme-right vanguard but now, with 179 members – including almost all of the freshman class, even the ostensibly moderate ones – pretty much overlaps with the House Republicans as a whole, encompassing nearly three-quarters of them). The week before that came the appropriations vote, which was more or less a vote on whether to keep the government running or shut it down. These particular roll call votes gave some definition to fissures within the Republican caucus that we’ve instinctively known are there; there’s a lot of overlap between the members voting ‘yes’ on the alternative RSC budget and those voting ‘no’ on the CR (i.e. voting in favor of a shutdown), providing the basic outline of mainstream vs. teabagger in the House, and also cluing us in on where the multitudes of new GOP freshmen fall on that spectrum.

As you can see with the chart below, the ones voting ‘no’ on the RSC budget and voting ‘yes’ on continued government operations are the party’s establishment: leadership, Appropriations Committee members, the remaining rump of moderates and assorted other conservatives who still fall into the ‘sane’ camp, and various swing-district freshmen watching their own backs. The ones voting ‘yes’ on the RSC budget and ‘no’ on the CR are, by contrast, the really nasty pieces of work, the ones who tend to get the most media attention for their bomb-throwing comments and don’t seem to have much interest in the consequences, given their (mostly) safe districts. There are a few glaring exceptions, and those are the freshmen in Obama districts who seem content to go down with the ship in 2012: Allen West and Joe Walsh… and one very strange third member of the group, in the form of VA-02’s Scott Rigell, who seems eager to recast himself after being on the defensive in 2010’s primary for having contributed to Obama and other RINO-ish offenses.

The ones in the middle, voting ‘yes’ on the RSC budget but also ‘yes’ on the CR, are the ones who in previous decades would have been the House’s far-right but are just sort of business-as-usual these days; they tend to make up the RSC’s rank-and-file, in favor of total austerity but not outright monkey-wrenching the economy. Maybe the most interesting collection is the ones voting ‘no’ on both the RSC budget and the CR (in other words, they’re against the RSC’s every-man-for-himself budget but also in favor of a shutdown). Most of these confused folks seem to be freshmen who are still figuring out their ideological identities in terms of what’ll get them re-elected next time (see Chip Cravaack as a main case in point, as well as, say, Robert Hurt and Scott Tipton). However, a few are veterans seeking a promotion — Dean Heller and Denny Rehberg – and seemingly trying to work an angle, not letting themselves on record as having voted in favor of anything unpopular. (Rehberg, in fact, took this even further, as one of only the four GOPers who voted against the Ryan budget, along with sorta-moderate Walter Jones, vulnerable freshman David McKinley, and Ron Paul, who voted against it from the right.)

R: Republican Study Committee

T: Tea Party Caucus

M: Main Street Partnership

F: Freshman

O: Obama district

Y on CR
N on RSC
N on CR
N on RSC
Y on CR
Y on RSC
N on CR
Y on RSC
Aderholt (R, T)

Alexander (R, T)

Barletta (F, O)

Bass (M, ‘F,’ O)

Benishek (R, F, O)

Berg (R, F)

Biggert (M, O)

Bilbray (R, M, O)

Bilirakis (R, T)

Black (R, T, F)

Bonner (R)

Bono Mack (M, O)


Buchanan (R)

Bucshon (R, F)

Camp (R, M, O)

Canseco (R, F, O)

Cantor (R)

Capito (M)

Crawford (R, F)

Crenshaw (T)

Davis (R)

Dent (M, O)

Des Jarlais (R, F)

Diaz-Balart (M)

Dold (M, F, O)

Dreier (M, O)

Duffy (R, F, O)

Ellmers (R, F, O)

Emerson (M)

Farenthold (R, T, F, O)

Fincher (R, T, F)

Fitzpatrick (M, ‘F,’ O)

Fortenberry (R, M)

Frelinghuysen (M)

Gerlach (M, O)

Gibbs (R, F)

Gibson (R, M, F, O)

Graves (MO) (R)

Griffin (R, F)

Grimm (R, F)

Guthrie (R)

Hanna (R, M, F, O)


Hayworth (R, M, F, O)

Heck (F, O)

Herrera (R, F, O)

Hultgren (R, F, O)

Jenkins (R, M, T)

Johnson (OH) (M, F)


King (NY)

Kinzinger (R, M, F, O)

Latham (O)

La Tourette (M)

Lewis (M)

Lo Biondo (M, O)

Lucas (R)

Luetkemeyer (R, T)

Lungren (R, O)

Marino (F)


McKeon (R)

McKinley (R, M, F)

McMorris Rodgers (R)

Meehan (M, F, O)

Murphy (M)

Noem (R, F)

Nugent (R, T, F)


Paulsen (M, O)

Petri (M, O)

Pitts (R)

Platts (M)

Reed (R, M, F)

Renacci (R, M, F)

Rivera (F)

Roby (R, F)

Rogers (AL) (R)

Rogers (KY)

Rogers (MI) (O)

Rooney (R)

Ros-Lehtinen (O)

Roskam (R, O)

Runyan (M, F, O)

Ryan (R, O)

Schilling (R, F, O)

Schock (R, M)




Smith (NJ)

Stivers (R, M, F, O)

Thompson (R)

Tiberi (M, O)

Turner (R, M)

Upton (M, O)

Walden (M)

Webster (R, F, O)

Whitfield (M)

Wittman (R)

Wolf (M, O)

Womack (R, F)

Young (AK)

Young (FL) (O)

Young (IN) (R, F)
Adams (R, T, F)

Cravaack (F, O)

Forbes (R, O)

Gardner (R, F)


Hurt (R, F)

McCotter (R, M, O)

Miller (MI)

Pearce (R, T, ‘F’)

Rehberg (R, T)

Scott (SC) (R, F)

Tipton (F)

Yoder (R, F, O)
Akin (R, T)

Austria (R, M)

Bachus (R)

Bishop (R, T)

Brady (R)

Brooks (R, F)

Buerkle (R, F, O)

Burgess (R, T)

Burton (R, T)

Calvert (M, O)

Campbell (R, O)

Carter (R, T)

Cassidy (R, T)

Coble (R, T)

Coffman (R, T)

Cole (R)

Conaway (R)

Culberson (R, T)

Denham (R, F)

Fleischmann (R, F)

Flores (R, F)

Foxx (R)

Gallegly (O)

Goodlatte (R)

Gosar (R, F)

Granger (R)

Guinta (R, F, O)

Hall (R)

Harper (R)

Hartzler (R, T, F)

Hensarling (R)

Herger (R, T)

Hunter (R)

Issa (R)

Johnson (TX) (R)

Kelly (R, F)

Kline (R)

Lance (M, O)

Landry (R, T, F)

Lankford (R, F)

Latta (R)

Lummis (R)

Manzullo (R, O)

Marchant (R)


Miller (CA) (R)

Miller (FL) (R)

Myrick (R)

Nunnelee (R, F)

Olson (R)

Palazzo (R, F)

Pompeo (R, F)

Posey (R)

Price (R, T)

Ribble (R, F)

Roe (R, T)


Rokita (R, F)

Royce (R, T)

Scalise (R, T)

Scott (GA) (R, F)

Sessions (R, T)

Shimkus (R)

Smith (NE) (T)

Smith (TX) (R, T)

Stearns (T)

Sullivan (R)

Terry (M, O)

Thornberry (R)

Walberg (R, T, ‘F,’ O)

Westmoreland (R, T)

Woodall (R, F)
Amash (R, F)

Bachmann (R, T)

Bartlett (R, M, T)

Barton (R, T)

Blackburn (R)

Broun (R, T)

Chabot (R, ‘F,’ O)

Chaffetz (R)

Duncan (SC) (R, T, F)

Duncan (TN)

Flake (R)

Fleming (R, T)

Franks (R, T)

Garrett (R)

Gingrey (R, T)

Gowdy (R, F)

Graves (GA) (R)

Griffith (R, F)

Harris (R, F)

Huelskamp (R, T, F)

Huizenga (R, F)

Johnson (IL)

Jordan (R)

King (IA) (R, T)

Kingston (R)

Labrador (R, F)

Lamborn (R, T)

Long (R, F)

Mack (R)

McClintock (R)

McHenry (R)

Mulvaney (R)

Neugebauer (R)


Pence (R, T)

Poe (R, T)

Quayle (R, F)

Rigell (R, F, O)

Ross (R, T, F)

Schmidt (R)

Schweikert (R, F)

Southerland (R, F)

Stutzman (R, F)

Walsh (R, T, F, O)

West (R, T, F, O)

Wilson (R, T)

One interesting post-script: the vote on the RSC budget was subject to some last-minute monkey business, as Democrats switched their votes en masse to ‘present,’ leaving the RSC budget too dangerously close to passage for leadership’s tastes. TPM reports that at least four key Republicans switched their votes at the very last second to keep it from passing, although it’s still not exactly clear who the switchers were:

After a few minutes of panic and pandemonium, GOP leaders convinced Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), as well as Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), to switch and save the day.

After initial reports that Connie Mack had also switched were squelched, those later turned to rumors of Buck McKeon as #4. I’m not exactly sure why Dreier, Bono Mack, and McKeon (all in Obama districts that could morph into something even bluer thanks to California’s new redistricting commission) were willing to go on record in favor of the RSC budget in the first place; they might be secretly happy to be ‘no’s at this point.

One other observation: notice who’s not anywhere on the list? Dave Reichert, possibly one of the most vulnerable long-time House GOPers in 2012 unless redistricting saves his bacon; he was a non-voter on both bills. It’s not clear whether he’s ill again, or whether his electoral strategy for 2012 involves hiding under a pile of coats for the next two years. [UPDATE: Several commenters point out that Reichert’s mother passed away last week; our condolences to him and his family.]

That’s not all! We still have all the Dems to talk about, over the flip…

Democrats were unanimous against the Ryan budget, and the vast majority of them voted ‘present’ on the RSC budget in order to better expose that intra-caucus cleavage within the GOP. However, 16 Dems did wind up voting ‘no’ instead (Altmire, Barrow, Boswell, Braley, Courtney, Donnelly, Heinrich, Kildee, Loebsack, Matheson, McIntyre, Murphy, Schrader, Shuler, Smith, and Watt); while at first, it seems to be a list of sometimes-uncooperative Blue Dogs, it also includes a few guys who are seeking promotions and probably don’t want to be seen as playing games (Martin Heinrich, Chris Murphy), and maybe a few guys who just didn’t get the message about switching (Mel Watt?).

However, there were some fissures within the Democratic caucus that become evident when comparing two of the alternative budgets offered by Democrats: one from the Progressive Caucus and one from the Congressional Black Caucus. Those who voted either ‘yes’ on both or ‘no’ on both pretty clearly delineate the left and right flanks of the Democratic caucus. (I can’t say there are many surprises here, with only one notable New Dem and potentially-difficult-district denizen voting ‘yes’ twice — Rush Holt – and several well-known Progressives (DeFazio, Waxman) voting ‘no’ twice for some irascible reason.) The ones who split the difference, voting for the CBC budget but not for the more aggressive Progressive budget, tend to be leadership and its allies, or else veteran Dems who tend to alternate back and forth between the two camps. There were two members against the CBC budget and for the Progressive budget; fittingly, given the decidedly counterintuitive nature of that pairing, the two were Dennis Kucinich and David Wu.

P: Progressive Caucus

N: New Democrats

B: Blue Dogs

F: Freshman

M: McCain district

Y on Prog
Y on CBC
Y on Prog
N on CBC
N on Prog
Y on CBC
N on Prog
N on CBC
Baca (B)

Baldwin (P)

Bass (P, F)

Becerra (P)

Blumenauer (P)

Brady (P)

Brown (P)


Capuano (P)

Carson (P, N)

Chu (P)

Cicilline (P, F)

Clarke (MI) (F)

Clarke (NY) (P)

Cleaver (P)


Cohen (P)

Conyers (P)

Cummings (P)

Davis (IL) (P)


Edwards (P)

Ellison (P)

Farr (P)

Fattah (P)

Filner (P)

Frank (P)

Fudge (P)

Grijalva (P)

Gutierrez (P)

Hastings (P)

Hirono (P)

Holt (N)

Honda (P)

Jackson (IL) (P)

Jackson Lee (P)

Johnson (TX) (P)

Lee (P)

Lewis (P)


McDermott (P)

McGovern (P)

Miller (CA) (P)

Moore (P)

Nadler (P)


Pallone (P)

Pastor (P)

Payne (P)

Pingree (P)

Rangel (P)

Richardson (P)

Richmond (F)

Roybal-Allard (P)

Rush (P)

Sanchez, Li. (P)


Schakowsky (P)

Serrano (P)

Slaughter (P)

Thompson (MS) (P)

Tierney (P)



Velazquez (P)

Waters (P)

Watt (P)

Welch (P)

Wilson (FL) (P, F)

Woolsey (P)
Kucinich (P)

Wu (N)



Carnahan (N)


Crowley (N)

DeLauro (P)


Engel (N)


Green, Al

Hanabusa (F)


Kaptur (P)


Larson (CT) (N)

Lujan (P)


Miller (NC)






Scott (GA) (N, B)

Scott (VA)



Van Hollen

Wasserman Schultz (N)

Altmire (N, B, M)

Barrow (N, B)

Bishop (NY)

Boren (B, M)

Boswell (B)


Capps (N)

Cardoza (B)

Carney (F)

Chandler (B, M)

Connolly (N)

Cooper (B)

Costa (B)


Courtney (N)

Critz (M)

Cuellar (B)

Davis (CA) (N)

DeFazio (P)

DeGette (N)




Donnelly (B)


Green, Gene

Heinrich (N)

Higgins (N)

Himes (N)

Holden (B, M)

Inslee (N)

Israel (N)

Kind (N)


Larsen (WA) (N)



Loebsack (P)


Matheson (B, M)


McCarthy (N)

McIntyre (N, B, M)


Michaud (B)

Moran (P, N)

Murphy (CT) (N)


Perlmutter (N)

Peters (N)

Peterson (B, M)

Polis (P, N)



Ross (B, M)


Ryan (OH)

Sanchez, Lo. (N, B)

Schiff (N, B)

Schrader (N, B)

Schwartz (N)


Shuler (B, M)

Smith (WA) (N)


Thompson (CA) (B)




Waxman (P)


(You might notice 18 names missing from this chart of Dems; it excludes anyone who missed one or both votes. Maybe most significantly, that includes new Senate candidate Shelley Berkley.)

44 thoughts on “Know Your Caucuses: Parsing the Budget Votes”

  1. Shelley certainly had “family obligations” at the right time, and Heller has to walk a fine line of throwing bones to teabaggers while not drinking too much of that “crazy tea” himself.

    And Joe Heck? So far, he’s mostly being Boehner’s tool. If he gets drawn into another swing district by either The Legislature (if GOPers give up on him so they can save NV-02) or the courts (who don’t have a dog in that race, and don’t give a flying f*ck who Heck wants in NV-03), he’s screwing himself. Big time.

  2. while i doubt a vote for a plan that doesn’t become law will have an effect, it probably will in states where medicare is especially important.   getting Rubio to stand for massive medicare changes, bill nelson to stand against them could help democrats immensely.  

    1. Unless you’re OK with pro-Wall Street financial policy and hawkish foreign policy.

      The one thing (and I mean one & only thing) I agree with Trent Lott on is that “leading” The Senate really is like herding cats. One can’t just throw down the gauntlet Pelosi style because Pelosi had far different rules to deal with than Reid. And just because of the nature of the institution, one Senator has far more clout and far more influence than one Representative.

  3. Sanchez, Thompson(CA) and Schiff for their votes. Yes I know they are blue dogs but the come from really blue Districts

    1. I have always liked Reid for what he can get done in the Senate, and have admired him for his personal story.

      He served us as well as anyone could the last Congress, and so far this one.

      And Republicans have handed us a contrast that lets us have a very good chance at holding the Senate whatever the map next year.

    2. I wasn’t very impressed with Reid last cycle, until shortly after the election SSP made me see just how full of crap DKos was about everything Reid, when Reid himself ran a flawless campaign despite having started out as the incumbent most pundits thought was most likely to lose. All the more reason why I think merging this site with DKos is a bad idea.

      That said, I’ve always been fairly meh on Durbin (ok, not great), but his damn idiotic insistence on this social security crap flies in the face of everything Dems should be standing for. After all, we INVENTED Social Security.

      And frankly, much as this country would be doomed under a Republican, if Obama becomes the Democratic President who campaigned on hope and change, then pissed away his re-election chances by killing Social Security, he probably deserves to lose. I’ll still vote for him, of course, but I’ll understand WHY we end up with President Bachmann, who wins with 7% of the vote to Obama’s 4% after the entire country stays home in disgust. God, someone please shut the Third Way up RIGHT NOW so that doesn’t happen!  

  4. You guys earn your hard-earned reputations with work like this.  Great stuff.  Hopefully this gets you some more shout-outs from MSM political journalists.

  5. Under his sleeve. One thing I’ve learned about Harry Reid over the last 2 years is that he’s never to be “misunderestimated”. Rubio may be smart enough to wiggle his way around a Ryan Budget vote, but Brown, Lugar, & Snowe will face HUGE pressure from both sides on it. The NRSC must know this, so Cornyn will have a real bind on his hands.

  6. It will get Scott Brown on the record.  It will also show whether or not Snowe is willing to take a stand and buck the leadership instead of constantly being cowed.

  7. have always been able to do better than they have.

    I think Schiff and especially Sanchez have a lot of apathetic Latino votes in their districts, and Thompson, of course, has the apathetic pothead vote.

    All the more reason why commission redistricting will make California a truly interesting map, regardless of the results.  

  8. Remember all three defeated Republicans in marginal districts in the 1990s. In 1996, Clinton only got 48% in the district Thompson would win in 1998, 49% in Schiff’s future district and 49% in the district Sanchez picked up at the same time. Clinton won 49% nationwide.

    When these three move on, they will probably all be replaced by more liberal representatives. In the mean time, all three will occasionally be a pain in the butt.

  9. I meant to add all three are very representatives for the district they were originally elected to, though it occasionally shows that their districts have moved to the left quicker than they have.

  10. I spent much of my childhood in CA-47, and my first Midterm & Presidential ballots were cast there. I know that territory.

    And honestly, CA-47 is where I learned that PVIs don’t tell the whole story. On paper CA-47 may be D+7, but Nancy Pelosi would have a hard time winning that district. It’s a weird mix of blue-collar, culturally conservative “lunch bucket Dems”, immigrant communities, pockets of second & third generation folks now operating small businesses, and just a few pockets of “Creative Class” type liberals. Sure, Loretta Sanchez can be a pain in the ass sometimes. But for someone elected in a district that went 50% Bush in 2004 (and that’s AFTER the 2001 gerrymander!), IMHO she actually votes to the left of who could otherwise win that seat.

    And once Loretta leaves, there’s actually a risk she will be replaced by a more difficult Blue Dog. State Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) is awfully popular in that area, despite progressives and OC Dem establishment folks hating his guts. If/When Loretta leaves, he may very well be the frontrunner to replace her… And he may be needed if The Prop 11/Prop 20 Commission shifts CA-47 a bit further right.

  11. I was really more talking about Thompson, whose district became much bluer after 2000, but he still votes like he did in 1998. Sanchez is and always has been in difficult territory, and I don’t know much of anything about Schiff, but Thompson’s conservatism has irked me for as long as I’ve paid attention to congressional politics because that district in particular CAN do better.

    Honestly, I have trouble keeping a lot of these California districts straight.  

  12. …is out there touting social security benefit cuts and working so tightly with wingnut colleagues to hammer out a proposal for it.

    All last Congress Reid got hammered by the internet left, stupid as so many of them are, when in reality all he was doing was as much as he could to accomplish progressive causes in actual bills.  And he did all this hard and good work while fighting for his political life back home and having to beat the worst possible odds to get reelected.  And yet so many of the idiots at Kos or FDL complained “we want Durbin!” or “we want Schumer!”

    I always said then that Reid did a great job, and if he lost and Durbin and Schumer took over, these people would find they’re no different.  They have to cut deals to get things done, and they’re never able to get done as much as we wish…same as always.  That’s democracy.

    So here we are this year, with Harry Reid going to the mat to say “NO” to social security benefit cuts, and Durbin going completely off-message to say “yes.”

    The 2012 election, thanks to the stupid GOP, will be all about preserving or abolishing the safety net we have.  We need to be on message about that on Team Blue, officeholders and candidates and appointees and interest groups and the rest of the noise machine combined.  Whatever Durbin is doing, someone needs to tell him to get back on message.  He’s the damn whip.

  13. Majority Leader. That said, I am really at a loss to explain WTF Durbin is doing. The only path for Democrats to follow on Social Security was laid out by Nancy Pelosi in 2005.  

  14. Sorry for the shout, but I so appreciate what you just said. I tried to tell that to my Kossack friends last year, but so many of them blew me off… And some of them even had the nerve to lecture me on why I “should suck it up and make sure Reid loses!”

    Of course, I now rub their faces in this BS. One in particular kept telling me he refused to vote for Reid precisely so Durbin can be Dem leader. I’m still awaiting his response on this latest Catfood Commission crap.

    I wonder when we’ll start hearing demands at DKos & FDL to primary Durbin? 😉

  15. I think you kind of contradict yourself. You say that any replacement to Reid would be “no different” because they “have to cut deals to get things done.” I agree with that to a certain extent. But you also say that Durbin is way out there and off-message, so I don’t think this is a particularly good example of “Durbin wouldn’t be any better because he’d have to engage in unpleasant but necessary deal-making.” This is Durbin either being an idiot, or doing what the White House asked him to do. It’s not him acting as some kind of necessary dealmaker.

  16. and the DKos crowd would find a reason to criticize him anyway.

    It’s simple, if the Senate doesn’t function like they want, which it never will, the Majority Leader is weak, so no matter who it is, he always will be

  17. But I would prefer the leader to be at least as effective in articulating the Democratic position as MItch McConnell is the Republican one.  

  18. 4.35, to be exact, not counting seniority for either Senators or Representatives.

    And Schumer would be a questionable majority leader, but I think he’d make a fantastic whip.  

  19. I suspect that Bush’s performance among Hispanics in SoCal is the best the a Republican is going to have in a generation, so the 60% Obama might be more accurate than the 50% Bush, but still, she’s pretty good for what the district is.

    I was under the impression for some reason that the Santa Ana area had an unusually high proportion of Hispanic non-citizens when compared with other area with large Hispanic populations. Since you grew up there, did you know that to be the case? Because if so, I’d reason that things are going to get a lot better for Dems there over the next ten years, what with native-born children growing up and non-citizens gaining citizenship.

  20. Is all that good. Do most folks (outside here & DKos & the rest of the political blogosphere) even know who Mitch McConnell is? Non-political-junkies are probably more likely to know Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, and/or Pand Raul than McConnell.

    What I will give McConnell credit for is obstructionism. He certainly knows how to do that to his advantage!

    And yes, Harry Reid has never been great in front of a microphone. That’s not his strong suit. And frankly, I like that he works hard behind the scenes to get stuff done while other Senators (especially Schumer!) showboat in front of TV cameras. Let them do that while Reid crafts the bills and whips the votes behind the scenes.

  21. There are huge immigrant communities throughout CA-47. Yes, Santa Ana happens to have the largest of them with crowded clusters of Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan immigrants. However, Garden Grove also has a number of Vietnamese, Korean, and Cambodian immigrants. And in addition to its own Mexican immigrant community, Anaheim also has growing Arab and South Asian immigrant communities.

    While Latinos comprise the vast majority (77%) of Santa Ana and solid majority (65%) of CA-47, Asian-Americans are actually the fastest growing demographic group in the area. Moving forward, the children of all these immigrant communities may very well reshape this district again.

  22. I doubt she wanted to be on record as having voted no on both her caucus’s proposals. I don’t think tha, because of the fact she’s leader of her caucus, means that voting against the Prog budget means she’s abandoned her principals.

  23. …a lot of the perpetual malcontents in the netroots see Reid as unprincipled, and Durbin and Schumer both as principled.  Now we see that Durbin is plenty happy to go off the reservation on a major issue.

    And it’s in that vein, in the realm of departing from principle, where Durbin going off-message is in the same camp as “compromise necessary for dealmaking.”  I criticize the former but accept the latter because the former is unnecessary and in fact damaging, while the latter is necessary.

    Of course none of this has been to impugn Schumer, who hasn’t done anything recently to piss off the left…and yet, I just looked it up and found that Schumer voted for the Iraq War…and Durbin voted against it.

    There’s hardly any purity out there among United States Senators with a “D” next to their names.

  24. …ideological (conservative vs. liberal), and how they perform in front of a microphone (McConnell disciplined, Reid much less so).

    They both play the inside game equally well, and that’s actually the most important thing a caucus leader must do.  Other things matter very much, yes, and Harry is deficient as a public spokesman, but still he’s ultimately a good leader in spite of that.

  25. 1) Weiner is not the hardcore lefty many on the left and right assume he is just because the last couple years he’d been on MSNBC and giving populist sounding speeches.

    2) Weiner is looking to move up and out.  While you could argue there could be some benefit for the sakes of ideological positioning in the primary to vote for one or both… you could also argue there is a reason to just vote no on anything and everything especially since it’s all symbolic anyways with the Democrats in the minority.  Then you are not tied to anyones bad ideas and can instead campaign on your own lofty rhetoric rather than actual policy proposals that spells out explicitly who is going to feel what pain and receive what goodies.

  26. I think it’s more likely that there’s some matter of substance in the CPC budget that she didn’t like. I wish some enterprising reporter would at least ask.

  27. Thompson is kind of a pain, but more in the “occasionally irritating centrist back bencher in a seat that could elect a solid progressive leader” sort of way, I figure. I’ve dug through his record a bit and I can’t come up with a time when he was a key vote (and broke to the right) for a major piece of legislation, but he really hasn’t done all that much that the average (which means liberal these days) resident of Davis, Napa or Eureka could really get excited about.

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