Only forty-nine Republicans voted for the final version of Sandy* funding. Some of them – New York’s Peter King, mainly – were all over TV explaining why they would buck their various no-spending pledges and support the bill. I see a couple of obvious blocs.
The disaster-area reps (23). Delegations from Lousiana (Alexander, Boustany), Alabama (Bachus, Bonner, Cramer), coastal Florida (Diaz-Balart, Ros-Lehtinen, Bill Young), Mississippi (Harper, Palazzo), Alaska (Young) New York (Collins, Gibson, Grimm, Hanna, King, Reed) and New Jersey (Frelinghuysen, Garrett, Lance, LoBiondo, Runyan, Smith) comprised the biggest Republican bloc. Stephen Palazzo, elected in 2010, had been mocked across the media for opposing the first tranche of aid while demanding more for areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. He wiped off the flop sweat and voted the safe way.
The tricky districts (9). Even after the favorable gerrymanders of 2011, a number of Republicans need to tend to swing-ish seats. They are, roughly: Lou Barletta (PA), Rodney Davis (IL), Mike Fitzpatrick (PA), Jim Gerlach (PA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), Tom Marino (PA), Tom Meehan (PA), and Dave Reichert (WA). Add in Shelley Moore Capito (WV), who is already running for U.S. Senate in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican to that office since Ike was president.
The leaders (2). Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy both voted for the aid package, theoretically giving some cover for the second minority-of-the-majority vote this year.
The rest of the votes came from pragmatists who are usually there for big appropriations – Oklahoma’s Tom Cole, for example. As Jake Sherman explains, they’re going through less agony right now than the spending diehards.
And this was the most memorable “no” vote: Rep. Jim Cooper, the Democrat from Tennessee. He was only member of his party to oppose the bill, and he did so 24 hours after this announcement.
Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) has joined the newly formed No Labels congressional problem-solvers, a group of 24 members of Congress – Democrats and Republicans from both the House and Senate – who have committed to meeting regularly to build trust across the aisle. Cooper is a co-founder of No Labels, a nonpartisan citizen movement started in 2011 to encourage bipartisanship and problem-solving in Washington.
“America is the greatest nation on Earth, and our job in Congress is to keep it that way,” said Cooper. “We need more people like these problem-solvers who will vote their country and their conscience first.”
He was also the only member of the Problem-Solvers to vote this way. Will they take away his decoder ring?
UPDATE: Jim Cooper explains:
Congress should make at least some effort to pay for a portion of disaster relief. I voted for federal aid for Nashville flood recovery in 2010, and that bill was partially paid for. So were the Hurricane Katrina bills I supported. And Hurricane Rita, and Hurricane Wilma, and Hurricane Ivan, and Hurricane Isabel. Why can’t we find even partial offsets for Sandy? Yesterday’s votes came during a national budget crisis while America is officially out of money.
America isn’t actually out of money.
*Originally mis-typed this as “Sandy Hook,” a meaningless slip related to the fact that two major national stories share a common word.