Not all in House GOP back shut­down

Up to 12 have backed bills to re­open gov­ern­ment

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - NEWS - Mau­reen Groppe Con­tribut­ing: El­iza Collins

WASH­ING­TON – As the fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down bar­rels to­ward the long­est in his­tory Sat­ur­day, a hand­ful of Repub­li­cans have crossed party lines to vote with Democrats to re­open shut­tered agen­cies.

The ques­tion be­comes, how many more might join them?

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump con­tin­ues to crow about the un­wa­ver­ing sup­port he says he has from Repub­li­cans to keep parts of the gov­ern­ment closed un­til Democrats agree to fund a bor­der wall.

“There is GREAT unity with the Repub­li­cans in the House and Se­nate, de­spite the Fake News Me­dia work­ing in over­drive to make the story look oth­er­wise,” the pres­i­dent tweeted Thurs­day.

But hours later a few more Repub­li­cans de­fected.

Eight House Repub­li­cans voted Wed­nes­day to fund the Trea­sury Depart­ment, where the IRS is gear­ing up for tax sea­son. Ten voted Thurs­day to re­open the agen­cies that dis­pense food stamps, run agri­cul­ture as­sis­tance pro­grams and in­spect food and drugs. A dozen Repub­li­cans backed con­tin­u­ing fund­ing for the de­part­ments of hous­ing and trans­porta­tion.

GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., dis­missed Thurs­day’s de­fec­tions as “no sur­prises” and said he wasn’t wor­ried about los­ing sup­port from his cau­cus.

“Our mem­bers want to se­cure the bor­der. Ob­vi­ously there are a few that aren’t there,” Scalise said dur­ing a brief­ing with re­porters. “The vast ma­jor­ity of our con­fer­ence strongly sup­ports se­cur­ing the bor­der and strongly sup­ports what the pres­i­dent is do­ing.”

Democrats, who con­trol the House, will con­tinue to bring up leg­is­la­tion to try to com­plete fund­ing for the nine de­part­ments and sev­eral smaller agen­cies whose bud­gets ran out Dec. 22.

But Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., has said he will not even con­sider the bills in his cham­ber be­cause Trump won’t sign them.

The eight House Repub­li­cans who voted for all the bills so far in­clude:

❚ One who rep­re­sents more of the south­ern bor­der than any other mem­ber of Congress: Texas Rep. Will Hurd.

❚ Two who pub­licly re­fused to vote for Trump: New York Rep. John Katko and Wash­ing­ton Rep. Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler.

❚ Three who rep­re­sent the only dis­tricts won by Hil­lary Clin­ton that the GOP still holds: Hurd, Katko and Penn­syl­va­nia Rep. Brian Fitz­patrick.

Most have been will­ing to buck their party in the past, in­clud­ing on high-pro­file is­sues such as op­pos­ing GOP ef­forts to get rid of Oba­macare.

But the group also in­cludes law­mak­ers like New York Rep. Elise Ste­fanik, a ris­ing star in the GOP; Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, who rep­re­sents a dis­trict that Trump won by 19 per­cent­age points; and Michi­gan Rep. Fred Up­ton, who has con­sis­tently voted with his party on na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues.

Four other House Repub­li­cans – Rod­ney Davis of Illi­nois, Peter King of New York, Christo­pher Smith of New Jersey and Steve Stivers of Ohio – voted for some of the out­stand­ing spend­ing bills.

Fitz­patrick, a for­mer FBI spe­cial agent and fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor rep­re­sent­ing a swing dis­trict in the south­east corner of Penn­syl­va­nia, was first elected in 2016 on a prom­ise of bi­par­ti­san­ship.

In his first term, he sided with Democrats on about one-quar­ter of the votes that split the two par­ties, in­clud­ing op­pos­ing Repub­li­cans’ Oba­macare al­ter­na­tive. Fitz­patrick’s re-elec­tion bid, which he won with 51 per­cent of the vote, was en­dorsed by the AFL-CIO and for­mer Demo­cratic Rep. Gabby Gif­fords, who ad­vo­cates for gun con­trol.

“Shut­downs are costly and un­nec­es­sary, and I will work with both sides to find a so­lu­tion,” Fitz­patrick said.

Her­rera Beut­ler’s 52.7 per­cent victory last fall was the fifth-term rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s clos­est race in her south­west Wash­ing­ton state dis­trict.

She’s called the shut­down “lu­di­crous.”

“There’s a so­lu­tion at hand, if politi­cians grow up, stop wor­ry­ing about which side is ‘win­ning’ the po­lit­i­cal fight (spoiler alert: they’re both los­ing), and de­liver re­sults,” she re­cently wrote.

The daugh­ter of a Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can and the great-grand­daugh­ter of im­mi­grants was one of a few Repub­li­cans in 2016 to back a Demo­cratic ef­fort to en­cour­age the De­fense Depart­ment to wel­come the ser­vice of some il­le­gal im­mi­grants who were brought into the coun­try as chil­dren.

In 2016, she voted for Paul Ryan in­stead of Trump. She an­nounced her de­ci­sion af­ter the re­lease of the 2005 Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood video­tape in which Trump bragged about grop­ing women by their gen­i­tals.

Hurd has squeaked by in his three elec­tions in a dis­trict dom­i­nated by Mex­i­can-Amer­i­cans. Af­ter op­pos­ing the bor­der wall, Hurd won re-elec­tion in Novem­ber by fewer than 1,000 votes.

Hurd, whose dis­trict en­com­passes nearly half of the Mex­i­can bor­der, has called a wall “the most ex­pen­sive, least ef­fec­tive way to do bor­der se­cu­rity.”

“The thing that I’ve been hear­ing is they need tech­nol­ogy, they need ad­di­tional man­power,” Hurd, a for­mer un­der­cover CIA agent, told NPR Thurs­day.

“I think shut­downs are stupid,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illi­nois told CNN. “I think it’s the dumb­est way to do gov­ern­ment in the world.”

Walden, the only Repub­li­can in Congress from Oregon, votes with Repub­li­cans more than 90 per­cent of the time. But as the new Congress con­vened last week, Walden said he looked for­ward “to reach­ing across the aisle to find bi­par­ti­san so­lu­tions.”

Of his votes to re­open parts of the gov­ern­ment, Walden said he has em­pa­thy for fed­eral work­ers and their fam­i­lies caught up in the im­passe.

“We know not many peo­ple can af­ford to miss a pay­check,” Walden said.

J. SCOTT AP­PLE­WHITE/AP

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, rep­re­sents more of the south­ern bor­der than any other mem­ber of Congress. He says a wall is an ex­pen­sive and in­ef­fec­tive way to keep the bor­der se­cure.

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