Senate: Vote on Two-Year Budget Deal

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the Senate’s 67-33 vote to invoke cloture and its 64-36 vote to pass a two-year compromise budget deal that was passed by the House last week.

Unlike in the House, where a substantial number of Democrats and particularly Republicans voted against the deal, Senate Democrats unanimously supported the deal while a majority of Senate Republicans voted Nay on both cloture and the bill itself. Three Republicans voted Yea on cloture but Nay on passage: Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). But, as in the House, conservative Republicans were more likely to oppose the deal than moderate Republicans, with a few exceptions like Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), a moderate Republican who voted Nay both times.

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House: Vote on Two-Year Budget Deal

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the House’s 332-94 vote to pass a two-year compromise budget deal brokered between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). The agreement reverses $63 billion in sequester cuts but does not include an extension of federal unemployment benefits, and Republicans split 169-62 and Democrats split 163-32, both in favor.

As is often the case with votes on compromise measures, there is somewhat of a “two-ends-against-the-middle” pattern here in which more conservative Republicans and more liberal Democrats were both more likely to oppose the agreement compared to their more moderate partisan colleagues. The mean first-dimension (representing liberal-conservative position) scores of Republicans who voted Yea is 0.44 compared to 0.51 for Nay Republicans (p < 0.01). Conversely, the mean scores of Yea and Nay Democrats are -0.52 and -0.58, respectively (p < 0.01).

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Note: The plot shows only 331 Yeas instead of the actual number of 332 because Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), who was elected last Tuesday in a special election to fill Senator Ed Market’s (D-MA) house seat, voted Yea but has not yet case enough votes to be included in the scaling.

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Senate: Vote on the “Nuclear Option” to Eliminate the Filibuster of Executive Appointments and Judicial Nominees

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the Senate’s historic 52-48 vote to enact the so-called nuclear option: a rule change that bars use of the filibuster to block most executive appointments and judicial nominees.

All 45 Senate Republicans opposed the rule change and were joined by three Senate Democrats: Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Mark Pryor (D-AR). OC misclassifies only one vote — that of Senator Levin — as Manchin and Pryor are the two most conservative Democrats in the 113th Senate and OC places the cutting line dividing predicted Yeas from predicted Nays just to their left. Senator Levin — who is one of the most liberal members of the Senate Democratic Caucus — decried gridlock in the Senate but also noted Democrats’ stalwart opposition to a change in the cloture rules proposed by Republicans in 2005.

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House: Vote on the Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the House’s 261-157 vote on the Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013, a measure spearheaded by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) that would allow insurers to continue offering disallowed health care plans for an additional year.

39 House Democrats crossed party lines and voted Yea while 4 House Republicans voted Nay because the bill does not include a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. As seen below, voting patterns conform to a clear ideological divide that splits the Democratic Party. Namely, most of the 39 Democratic Yea votes come from the spattering of moderate (and electorally vulnerable) House Democrats who are to the right of the tightly-clustered remainder of the House Democratic Caucus centered around -0.75 on the first dimension. There are only 12 Democratic spatial voting errors (in addition to the 4 Republicans who are misclassified) and most of these are very close to the cutting line (which divides predicted Yeas from predicted Nays).

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Senate: Vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the Senate’s 64-32 vote on passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The bill is designed to extend nationwide protection for gay and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace, but opponents contend that it violates religious liberty and free speech.

54 Senate Democrats (all but Sen. Bob Casey [D-PA], who did not vote) and 10 Senate Republicans (Sens. Kelly Ayotte [R-NH], Susans Collins [R-ME], Jeff Flake [R-AZ], Orrin Hatch [R-UT], Dean Heller [R-NV], Mark Kirk [R-NV], John McCain [R-AZ], Lisa Murkowski [R-AK], Rob Portman [R-OH], and Pat Toomey [R-PA]) supported passage of ENDA, while 32 Senate Republicans opposed it. OC does a good job of modeling this divide, erring only in its classification of three of the most conservative Yea votes: Senators Flake, Portman, and Toomey.

This vote is a good example of how social/cultural issues like abortion and gay rights have folded into the (first) liberal-conservative dimension underlying congressional voting patterns. While the second dimension used to be important in modeling these types of votes (when there were more socially conservative Democrats and socially liberal Republicans in Congress), these votes now primarily divide legislators along the liberal-conservative dimension. This is true not just between parties, but within them as well, as seen in the split within the Senate Republican Caucus on this vote.

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Senate and House: Votes on Agreement to End the Government Shutdown and Raise the Debt Ceiling

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the Senate’s 81-18 vote on an agreement crafted by Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to fund the government through January 15, 2014 (ending the government shutdown), raise the debt limit through February 7, 2014. The agreement also includes a provision that requires greater verification of income for those seeking subsidies through the Affordable Care Act. We also plot the House’s 285-144 vote on passage.

All voting Democrats in both chambers supported the bill, but Senate Republicans split 26-18 in favor and House Republicans 87-144 against. OC and the spatial model perform well in picking up the intra-party divide on this vote by modeling the most conservative Republicans as Nay votes and all Democrats and more moderate Republicans as Yea votes. In the Senate vote, there are only three classification errors: Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) (a predicted Yea vote who voted Nay) and Senators John Barasso (R-WY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (predicted Nay votes who supported the deal). In the House vote, there are 31 errors (most of whom are close to the cutting line separating predicted Yeas from predicted Nays) with a high PRE statistic of 0.78.

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The Shutdown: Boehner vs. Gingrich

Below we use DW-NOMINATE scores to compare the ideological makeup of the House Republican Caucus under Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) during the 1995/1996 government shutdown and the current one headed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Thad Hall has also compared the two groups at the Mischiefs of Faction blog

In this post we highlight the movement of the 80% ideological range of House Republicans from 1995 to 2013. Even over an 18-year period, there has been so much movement of both the 10th and 90th conservative percentile House Republicans away from the center that the current 10th percentile Republican would have been near the median Republican in the 104th Congress during the last protracted shutdown.

Despite criticism from Tea Party Republicans, Speaker Boehner himself—though near the center of the current House Republican Caucus—would have been further right of the 90th percentile Republican in 1995.

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Update 15 October 2013: We have also used DW-NOMINATE Common Space scores to plot a smoothed histogram of the ideological (first-dimension) scores of House Republicans in the 104th Congress and the (present) 113th Congress. We highlight the positions of the Republican leadership (Speaker, Leader, and Whip) in each Congress to illustrate that the current leaders are near or to the left of the median Republican in the 113th House.

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House: Predicted Vote on a Discharge Position for a Clean Continuing Resolution

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot a possible House vote on a discharge petition to bring a “clean” Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government to a vote in the House. This “vote” is based on an assumption that all House Democrats would vote Yea and would be joined by 20 House Republicans who have voiced support for a clean CR.

As would be expected, these 20 Republicans are among the most moderate members of the House Republican Caucus, and they would provide a slim 219-vote majority for a discharge position. The three Republicans misclassified as Yea votes — the three blue “R’s” in the right panel — are Reps. Chris Gibson (R-NY), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Chris Smith (R-NJ), moderate Republicans who might vote Yea but have not publicly announced their support.

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House: Votes on Funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Pay Our Guard and Reserve Act

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the House’s votes to pass two piecemeal funding bills: its 254-171 vote to make continuing appropriations for the National Institute of Health (NIH) and its 265-160 vote on the Pay Our Guard and Reserve Act.

All voting House Republicans voted Yea with the exception of Rep. John Duncan (R-TN), who voted Nay on the NIH funding bill. Both votes divided the House Democratic caucus along ideological lines, with 25 of the more moderate (and presumably more electorally vulnerable) Democrats breaking ranks to support the NIH funding measure and 36 supporting passage of the Pay Our Guard and Reserve Act. Accordingly, the cutting line splits the House Democrats on both votes with a major improvement in classification.

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House: Votes on Providing Funding for Veterans Programs, DC, and National Parks

Below we use Optimal Classification (OC) in R to plot the House’s votes to provide funding for three separate government programs: its 264-164 vote on veterans benefits funding, its 265-163 vote on District of Columbia funding, and its 252-176 vote on national parks funding. All three votes failed because they were brought up under a suspension of the rules and failed to win a 2/3 supermajority.

All voting House Republicans supported the three appropriations resolutions with the exception of Rep. Don Young (R-AK), who voted Nay on the national parks resolution. Several Democrats also crossed party lines to support these resolutions: 33 on veterans benefits funding, 34 on DC funding, and 22 on national parks funding. The spatial model helps explain many of these defections, which came disproportionately from moderate House Democrats.

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