Republicans Defect On The Small Stuff

As you know, Congressional Republicans held firm against the stimulus bill, voting unanimously against it. On a number of other bills the discipline has been pretty good: only three of the 178 GOP House members crossed over to vote with the Democrats on the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; eight did on the Paycheck Fairness Act; 18 on TARP authorization; 23 on delaying DTV implementation; and 40 on S-CHIP expansion.

In fact, they've been as likely to lose votes on the right -- for instance, 25 conservative Republicans voted against the Elder Abuse Victims Act, a bipartisan effort that passed with 397 votes. 31 of them voted against the bipartisan Presidential Library Donation Reform Act. And so on.

Yesterday, however, two votes came up on which a majority of house Republicans, following their leadership, voted no -- but more than 60 of their caucus crossed to vote Yes with the Democrats.

The first was a bill to improve oversight of child abuse in residential programs for teens. 101 Republicans voted no, but 64 Republicans voted yes, and 13 didn't vote. The second was a bill to provide compensation for Guam residents who were victimized by Japanese occupation in World War II.  97 Republicans voted no, 68 yes, 13 no vote. Only 38 voted no on both bills, meaning that 94 Republicans -- more than half the caucus -- defected from leadership at least once yesterday to join the Democrats.

I suppose, depending on your perspective (and your opinion of the bills), you could see this either as a large number of moderates willing to break with their rigid leadership; or a larger number of conservatives standing fast against bad legislation.

One way or another, it's a sign of significant splitting -- at least on the little, largely unnoticed votes.

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