Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday's House vote on the financial bailout plan was the mother of all case studies in congressional politics. I'm tempted to simply hand the roll call to the students in my Congress class as the final exam and have them explain it to me. In looking at the yeas and nays, a couple of patterns seem to emerge, many of which have been highlighted by media observers. The first, as noted by Chuck Todd, is that--as we would probably expect from House members--the fear of electoral repurcussions affected the vote of many. Those who have recently had close races, or have close races coming up in November, were likely to vote no. On the Democratic side, the examples of Nick Lampson (TX), Steve Kagen (WI), Nancy Boyda (KS), Don Cazayoux (LA), Travis Childers (MS), and Carol Shea-Porter (NH) jump out. For Republicans, Dave Reichert (WA), Robin Hayes (NC), Steve Chabot (OH), Ric Keller (FL), and Randy Kuhl (NY) are of note.
In a similar vein open seats were a good cue, especially on the Republican side. Free of electoral pressure, departing members were more likely to vote yes. Of the 29 Republicans not on the ballot this fall, 21 voted yes (with one not voting). Four of the six departing Democrats voted yes. For those leaving the House to seek another office, short term considerations seemed to compel a no vote, adding 4 to the total number of no's (2 Republican and 2 Democratic). The two nominees for New Mexico's open Senate seat, Reps. Steve Pearce (R) and Tom Udall (D) voted no; Colorado Senate candidate Rep. Mark Udall (D) voted no; as did Missouri gubernatorial candidate Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R).
Another dimension of the voting that some have discussed is the role played by the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus. By the numbers, of the 39 members of the CBC, 18 voted yes and 21 voted no. A story in today's Politico points to concerns among many African American members about the bill's failure to include enough foreclosure protection and how its addition might be enough to salvage the bill in the coming days. The Hispanic membership was more lined up against the bill than the CBC. Of the 21 Democratic members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, 14 voted no. In addition, the 3 Republican Hispanic members (not part of the CHC) voted no (Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart).
*Image courtesy of the New York Times