Not all in House GOP back shutdown
Up to 12 have backed bills to reopen government
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.
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.