Rebellion by House GOP Moderates Fails Completely and Utterly

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 30 2013 8:07 PM

Rebellion by House GOP Moderates Fails Completely and Utterly

U.S. Rep. Peter King
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., led an odd coalition Monday night.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The punch-drunk members of your nation's press corps briefly got excited by tough-talking Rep. Peter King, who went on the record to talk up a possible rebellion against the latest CR. (I called it "Plan C"; a GOP aide joked that I should call it "Plan K.") On Monday afternoon, King suggested that as many as 25 moderates might be ready to vote down the rule on the continuing resolution, throwing the debate into a happy chaos that would allow the passage of a "clean" CR.

The vote was delayed, but when it came, after 7, the moderates never showed up. Only six Republicans voted against the rule—King, Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Iowa Rep. Steve King, Georgia Rep. Paul Broun, and Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert. Two moderates had joined up with four of the House's most reliable right-wingers. There were audible guffaws in the Speaker's Lobby, as reporters wondered what to call this coalition.

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I asked Bachmann if she'd expected to actually bring down the rule. "No one knew," she said. "When we left conference, there wasn't a vote, and of course there wasn't time to whip on this. It was a roll of the dice, and you saw what happened."

Outside the Speaker's Lobby, King confirmed that the success of the rule meant that the new CR would probably pass. Back inside, moderate Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi bemoaned how this was all being portrayed by the media.

"The president's got to be smiling from ear to hear," he said. "He doesn't have to talk about the IRS scandal. He doesn't have to talk about the botched Syria issue. This is a great distraction for him, to focus on us and the dysfunction of Congress. I get that. My concern is that Harry Reid is a my-way-or-the-highway majority leader."

I asked Tiberi why a group of 30–35 hard-right conservatives were frequently able to move the leadership from its preferred position but no group of moderates could ever team up to do the same.

"I don't think that many conservatives have ever voted against the rule," he said. "I don't think it's a monolithic group. It's generally a group of people who want to govern. So they're frustrated. They're frustrated with Harry Reid as well. They're frustrated with the Ted Cruzes of the world. When you look at 233 members and talk about 35, not all of them are Republicans. Some of them are ... " 

Tiberi trailed off.

"I'll just leave it at that."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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