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.

    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!  

  3. 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.

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