The tax deal has made for quite a mash-up of political factions, and when it passed the House at midnight on Thursday night/Friday morning, it was supported by a coalition more hodgepodgish and randomly agglomerated than almost any voting coalition in the last four years.
Since Democrats took over Congress in 2007, strict partisanship has ruled the voting margins on most major pieces of legislation. Under President Bush, Democrats banded together for votes on war-funding and children's health care. Under Obama, Republicans have marched in lockstep against almost all of his initiatives.
But Thursday night was different, as nearly half the House Democratic caucus joined with Republicans to pass President Obama's deal.
Interestingly, Democratic leaders opposed the bill on final passage. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not vote (as is common), but the deal was opposed by Majority Whip James Clyburn, Assistant to the Speaker and incoming Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen, Caucus Chairman John Larson, and Caucus Vice-Chairman Xavier Becerra. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Pelosi's moderate #2, was the only Democratic leader to vote for the bill.
That's extremely rare in Congress these days, where, in the current partisan culture, Democratic leaders typically unite with their caucus (minus a few disaffected Blue Dog conservatives) to pass legislation on party-line votes.