The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The emerging far-right ‘no’ caucus in the House

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), center, and members of the House Freedom Caucus outside the Capitol last month. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
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On Friday afternoon, the House took one of those votes that the House takes on occasion to formally express its opposition to some event it can’t really influence or isn’t really interested in influencing. This time, the target of the chamber’s opprobrium was the coup that unfolded in Myanmar last month. As expected, the resolution passed easily.

But not unanimously. There were 14 members of the House who voted no on the resolution, as The Washington Post’s Paul Kane reported — 14 Republicans who had some unspecified objection to a resolution condemning the military takeover in the country the House refers to as Burma and calling for the release of political prisoners.

It wasn’t the first time that a small clutch of House Republicans had objected to what would seem to most observers as an unobjectionable proposal. On Wednesday, the House voted overwhelmingly to approve the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to those who protected the Capitol during the deadly violence that unfolded on Jan. 6. But, again, 12 Republicans objected.

Five Republicans voted no — “nay,” in the formal vernacular — on both measures. Some of the names will be familiar to those who pay even only narrow attention to federal politics: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Andy Harris (Md.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.). There are familiar names among the other 16 members who didn’t vote in support of the two measures, as well.

Member
Gold medals
Burma coup
Biggs *
Nay
Nay
Gaetz *
Nay
Nay
Greene *
Nay
Nay
Harris *
Nay
Nay
Massie *
Nay
Nay
Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) *
Yea
Nay
Ken Buck (R-Colo.)
Yea
Nay
Ted Budd (R-N.C.) *
Yea
Nay
Michael Cloud (R-Tex.)
Nay
Yea
Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) *
Nay
Yea
Bob Good (R-Va.) *
Nay
Yea
Lance Gooden (R-Tex.)
Nay
Yea
Jody Hice (R-Ga.) *
Yea
Nay
Mary Miller (R-Ill.)
Yea
Nay
Barry Moore (R-Ala.)
Yea
Nay
Scott Perry (R-Pa.)
Yea
Nay
Chip Roy (R-Tex.) *
Yea
Nay
Greg Steube (R-Fla.) *
Nay
Yea
Jodey Arrington (R-Tex.)
Not voting
Yea
Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.)
Yea
Not voting
Ralph Norman (R-S.C.)
Yea
Not voting

That a minority of the chamber should object to something that passes overwhelmingly is, of course, entirely within normal practice in the House. What’s unusual is that there appears to be a consistent cohort of House Republicans who are uniting to constitute much of the minority on measures that otherwise pass overwhelmingly.

Since the 117th Congress began in January, there have been nine votes on which less than 10 percent of the body voted no. On five of those votes, 43 Republicans have been responsible for all 89 “nay” votes. Looking at it more narrowly, 24 Republicans have been responsible for 67 of the votes — and 12 Republicans, all marked with asterisks above, have been responsible for nearly half of the no votes.

Besides the gold-medal and Myanmar votes, the other three measures were the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act, a bankruptcy relief extension and a measure aimed at preventing future cuts to a crime victims fund.

Just as the legislation itself seems somewhat scattershot, it’s not immediately clear what unifies the Republicans who opposed the measures besides staunchly right-wing politics and, in many cases, a penchant for media attention.

It probably goes without saying that 10 of them supported the effort to overturn the results of the presidential election from Arizona and Pennsylvania. (The exceptions are Massie and Roy, who both overtly opposed the effort.) That appears to be something of a through line here: tacit support for nondemocratic exertions of power.

Many of those opposing the gold medals vote, for example, expressed opposition to the resolution’s phrasing of those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as “insurrectionists,” despite that language having been used by the Justice Department in describing the events of the day. While the motivations for opposing the resolution about the Myanmar coup aren’t yet clear, it’s easy to see the pattern.

It’s also worth noting that the coup in Myanmar has been viewed with approval by adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a movement to which both Greene and Boebert have been linked.

On Monday, Boebert held a town hall in Colorado and was asked whether a central part of the QAnon theory — that Democrats would be rounded up and arrested — would come true.

Boebert claimed to have heard from someone close to former president Donald Trump that the wild rumors being published by a high-profile right-wing newspaper were accurate. She then added that she knew someone who was helping to declassify information that Trump had ordered to be released.

“This person is getting very tired of waiting on the [Justice Department] to do something about it,” Boebert said, according to a recording made by a reporter at the event. “And we will be hearing about it very, very soon. And this is my opinion with that information that I have, I believe we will see resignations begin to take place. And I think we can take back the majority in the House and the Senate before 2022 when all of this is ended.”

In light of those comments, it seems less remarkable that she would choose not to speak out against a military coup in Myanmar.

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