At least five of the 10 House Republicans who voted against the GOP budget proposal Thursday morning are facing electoral pressures, some from the left and some from the right. The bill passed the House, 221-207, with Democrats unanimous in opposition and most Republicans in support.
Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., who voted against Paul Ryan's budget proposal in 2012, was joined in dissent this year by Rep. Joe Heck. Heck represents a suburban Las Vegas district that — like Gibson's in the Hudson Valley — narrowly supported President Obama over Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Democrats used Gibson's 2011 vote for the GOP budget as a cudgel in his race last year, but he still won reelection in Democratic-leaning territory.
In a statement, Heck said that while he wanted to balance the budget, the cuts in the bill would "disproportionately affect" Nevada. "My vote indicates my priority, and that priority is Nevada," Heck said in the statement.
Gibson hasn't made a statement yet on the 2013 vote; his office said in 2012 that he opposed that budget because it included excessive military spending that could have been saved.
That Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia opposed the bill should come as no surprise; the Senate candidate wrote an op-ed for The New York Times this week criticizing Ryan's plan for not going far enough to cut spending. "My party's de facto position has become, 'We're increasing spending, but not as much as the other guy.' That's not good enough," Broun wrote.
The vote was another chance for Broun to contrast himself with potential Senate opponents, particularly GOP Rep. Tom Price, who, as vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, helped draft the bill. Last month, Broun was the only Republican to oppose a bill that would have forced Obama to submit a balanced budget to Congress every year. That bill, too, was sponsored by Price.
Another pair of Georgians, Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston, split on the budget — Politico reported this morning that both have swung to the right to keep up with Broun as they consider Senate bids of their own. Gingrey opposed the bill, despite voting in favor of Ryan's 2012 budget, while Kingston voted for it again. In a statement to National Journal, Gingrey said he opposed the budget because it did not fully repeal the "enormous 'Obamacare' taxes."
Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., reprised his no votes on the 2011 and 2012 GOP budgets as he considers a bid for the seat that Democratic Sen. Carl Levin is vacating in 2014. Amash said last year the budget didn't make enough cuts. He is known for causing headaches for the GOP leadership, and votes like these cost him his spot on the Budget Committee late last year. Amash has used that anti-establishment image to become a libertarian favorite; if he follows through with a Senate bid, it remains to be seen how his approach would play in a statewide GOP primary or general election.
Meanwhile, no House Democrats in vulnerable seats crossed over to support the budget. Republicans plan to use the vote on this proposal, which lays out a goal of eliminating the federal deficit in 10 years, to slam Democrats for not supporting a plan to balance the budget. Democratic groups are already hitting Republicans for supporting "dangerous" cuts and changes to Medicare.
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