House Republican Discipline Falling Apart: Hooray!


The Hill reports the encouraging news that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is losing his grip on his caucus. Some details:

Man vs. Power

Sixteen Republicans defected Wednesday in a vote on the rule governing consideration of a government-funding bill meant to prevent a government shutdown. The defections could have caused the rule to fail since most Democrats voted also voted against it….

Votes on rules are supposed to be party-line and serve as tests of a caucus's unity. So it was disconcerting for leaders to see so many Republicans vote against the rule they had crafted….

Republicans were saved Wednesday by the fact that 17 Democrats missed the vote, possibly because of the poor weather in Washington that day. If those Democrats had all voted against the rule, it would have been defeated….

The dissenters were being pushed from the right, and from outside Congress itself:

Several conservatives switched their positions on the rule under pressure from interest groups that on Wednesday morning announced they intended to score votes on the rule.

Freedom Works, for example, was livid that GOP leaders refused to allow a floor vote on an amendment to defund the implementation of President Obama's healthcare law.

The conservative group sent out an action alert to its members on Wednesday under the heading "Demand Boehner Defund Obamacare."

Several of the seven lawmakers who supported passage of the bill but opposed the rule vote cited the Obamacare exclusion in explaining their votes.

Erick Erickson at RedState celebrated the 16, splitting them into a group of 10 he considers a reliable "Conservative Fight Club" and 6 fellow travelers on this issue:

The ten members of the Conservative Fight Club are:

  • Amash
  • Bridenstine
  • Broun
  • Gohmert
  • Huelskamp
  • Jones
  • Massie
  • Pearce
  • Salmon
  • Yoho

They are now the gold standard for conservatives in the House….

The other congressmen who stood with the Fight Club are:

  • Brooks
  • Fleming
  • Gingrey
  • Kingston
  • McClintock
  • Rohrabacher

Three of Erickson's "conservative fight club"–Amash, Massie, and Yoho–are interviewed at length in my March Reason magazine feature "Congress After Ron Paul."

Even Ron Paul told me in some interviews for my book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired that he tended to blunt his ideological opposition by mostly being a good party man on procedural stuff. 

FreedomWorks explains the importance of resisting the continuing resolution from its perspective:

This CR is the best, and perhaps last, chance that Congress will have for making major reforms in spending for the foreseeable future. Yet the House plans to just pass the CR at current spending levels, and is even using a closed rule to limit debate and prevent any amendments from being offered that might reform spending in the bill. Even in the absence of a budget, Congress must attempt to return to some semblance of regular order, where spending bills are allowed to be debated and amended by members on the floor.

FreedomWorks also notes the 14 Republicans who voted against, not just the rule regarding the continuing resolution (to keep government spending going), but against the resolution itself: 

Amash, Bridenstine, Broun, DeSantis, DesJarlais, Duncan (TN), Gingrey, Gohmert, Kingston, Massie, McClintock, Posey, Salmon, Stockman

Note the presence of both Amash and Massie among the nays.