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The ‘fiscal cliff’s’ Most Valuable Republicans

We've written on this blog many times -- including in The Fix's Monday column -- about how Republicans in Congress have very little impetus to compromise on the "fiscal cliff," given how conservative their states/districts are.

And it's true; the vast majority of these members only have to worry about their primaries, where compromise amounts to a Scarlet Letter.

But in the lame duck session, there are also many members of Congress who don't have to worry about their next reelection campaign. That's because they are retiring or lost in November.

In fact, there are more than enough of these Republicans in the House to pass a "fiscal cliff" deal if they and Democrats vote in unison.

In the House, 39 GOPers are leaving -- well more than the 26 crossover votes that Democrats would need to get to 217 votes. And in the Senate, there are six outgoing members -- enough to get to 59 votes and just shy of overriding a filibuster.

These members, unless they plan to run for office again, have little to be worried about politically by casting a vote that is unpopular with the GOP base. And they will often be the first members that congressional leaders go to when seeking votes for such a deal in the lame duck.

File: Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) speaks to furloughed Federal Aviation Administration civil engineers, Mike MacDonald, left, and their lobbyist, Erin Barry on Capitol Hill. (Melina Mara/Washington Post)

In fact, in 2008, there was a concerted and successful effort to get these members on board with the controversial Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout. In the end, 26 of 31 outgoing House members supported TARP, according to Josh Kraushaar, and nearly a third of the 65 Republicans voting for it fit that description.

A case in point is retiring Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), an ally of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who has spent much of the last month pushing his party toward compromise. He and fellow outgoing Reps. Robert Dold (R-Ill.), Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and Charlie Bass (R-N.H.), in fact, were among the first to urge their colleagues to allow for tax cuts for the wealthy to expire.

In both chambers, of course, it's not just about getting a majority. It's also about getting the bill to the floor for that majority vote. (And in the Senate, in particular, it has taken 60 votes to avert a filibuster and pass basically anything).

What's more, several of these outgoing members are very conservative (see: DeMint, West, Walsh, etc.), and we should hardly count on them to vote for something that goes against their principles in the name of bipartisanship.

But as we get closer to a potential vote, the outgoing Republicans listed below should be among those considered most likely to support a deal, because they have the least to lose:

(Special thanks to Roll Call's great Casualty List for the info below): 

HOUSE (39)


Retiring (11)

Steve Austria (R-Ohio)

Dan Burton (R-Ind.)

David Dreier (R-Calif.)

Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.)

Wally Herger (R-Calif.)

Tim Johnson (R-Ill.)

Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio)

Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.)

Sue Myrick (R-N.C.)

Ron Paul (R-Texas)

Todd Platts (R-Pa.)


Defeated in general election (17)

Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.)

Charles Bass (R-N.H.)

Judy Biggert (R-Ill.)

Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.)

Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.)

Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.)

Quico Canseco (R-Texas)

Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.)

Robert Dold (R-Ill.)

Frank Guinta (R-N.H.)

Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.)

Jeff Landry (R-La.)

Dan Lungren (R-Calif.)

David Rivera (R-Fla.)

Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.)

Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)

Allen West (R-Fla.)


Defeated in primary (6)

Sandy Adams (R-Fla.)

Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.)

Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.)

Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio)

Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.)

John Sullivan (R-Okla.)


Defeated for higher office (5)

Todd Akin (R-Mo.)

Rick Berg (R-N.D.)

Connie Mack (R-Fla.)

Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.)

Bob Turner (R-N.Y.)




Retiring (4)

Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)

Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)

Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)

Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)


Defeated (1)

Scott Brown (R-Mass.)


Defeated in primary (1)

Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) 

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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Aaron Blake · December 31, 2012

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