The Fix’s complete guide to understanding House Republicans

July 9, 2013

The fault lines within the House Republican conference have been on public display for months now.


House Republican Speaker John Boehner.

Whether it's the failure of the farm bill, the vote for speaker or the fiscal cliff negotiations, it's become quite clear that the House GOP is riven into a handful of factions -- factions that have made leading the group nearly impossible.

What we wanted to know was what these factions looked like and who fit into them -- both as a way to understand what has happened in the House over the past six months and to analyze what might happen in the coming fights over immigration and the debt ceiling.

So, with the help of a crack group that included Paul Kane, Aaron Blake, Sean Sullivan, Jackie Kucinich and Ed O'Keefe -- among others -- we came up with six votes that, when viewed together, do a pretty good job of explaining the fault lines within the House GOP. (We also built -- and by "we" I mean The Post's amazing graphics team -- an infographic on the votes that you can see if you scroll to the bottom of this post.)

The votes we chose: (1) the fiscal cliff compromise plan, (2) the speaker vote, (3) the "Sandy" relief bill, (4) the debt-limit delay, (5) reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and (6) the farm bill.

Taken together, those six bills produce five relatively well-defined factions among House Republicans. (We recognize that any attempt to force all members into five categories is an imperfect endeavor. But, we think this gets damn close to the best way to read the House GOP.)

The five groups are as follows:

1. "No!": There are 15 House Republicans who voted against five of the six bills mentioned above. (Because the vote on the fiscal cliff bill came in the lame-duck session of the 112th Congress, freshmen members in the 113th Congress didn't have a chance to vote on it.) These people -- Michigan's Justin Amash, Texas's Louie Gohmert -- aren't voting for anything the leadership needs them on. Like, nothing.

2. "Maybe, not likely": This is a group of 30 GOPers who have voted against four of the six bills we chose. This is a coalition that is likely to be a "no" on immigration reform and will definitely be a "no" on the debt ceiling. But, they aren't in open rebellion against the House leadership; just one member of this group -- Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador -- voted against Boehner for speaker.

3. "Vote no, hope yes": These may be the 29 most important members when it comes to understanding the fate of immigration and the debt-ceiling debates in the House. These two and a half dozen members have voted against three (and, therefore, for three) of the measures we highlighted. This group includes three committee chairmen -- Mike Conaway (Ethics), Jeff Miller (Veterans Affairs) and Jeb Hensarling (Financial Services). (Worth noting: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor castigated chairmen for voting against the farm bill in a private meeting Monday, according to National Review's Bob Costa.) This is a group that, by and large, wants to find a way to vote "yes" -- to support leadership -- but usually winds up not doing it.

4. "Maybe yes": The largest of our five groups with 114 members (49 percent of the House Republican conference), this is a faction that has backed four of the six key votes. These are people who are almost always going to be behind the leadership -- not a single person in this group voted against Boehner for speaker -- unless there is a specific issue in their district (or their personal belief system) that keeps them from saying "yes".

5. "Yes!": These 46 members are the Boehner base, such as it is. This list includes many of the members of the Boehner inner circle, such as the likes of Minnesota Rep. John Kline, Ohio's Pat Tiberi and Steve Stivers and Idaho's Mike Simpson. These members are with Boehner -- almost no matter what. If they start to turn, it's over for him.

In the infographic below, you can look at how each member of the five groups voted on all six bills. You can also search for an individual member to see how he/she came down on the six key votes.

Enjoy!

RELATED: Which Republicans, Democrats Show Up in 'This Town'? 

 

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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