Congress wraps for the year, after giving Putin a Christmas gift

The Republican House got out of town in record speed Thursday morning with its last vote of the year, passing the final $886 billion defense policy bill agreed to by Senate and House negotiators earlier this month. The Senate cleared the bill Wednesday, so it’s off to the White House for President Joe Biden’s signature.

Speaker Mike Johnson is slinking out of D.C. without giving the traditional end-of-year press conference. He hasn’t had a stellar few months in leadership, having already pissed off the hard right in his conference, so it’s hard to blame him for avoiding the ritual listing of accomplishments. That and he hasn’t really had any to talk about, other than the impeachment circus. In contrast, ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy celebrated his last day in Congress with a photo line for members and staffers.

What that means is Congress will leave for the year without providing aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan because of Republican opposition. Senate Republicans have refused to consider the aid package, extorting extreme immigration concessions for their votes. They have been dragging out the negotiations, seemingly plotting with Johnson and House Republicans to ensure that the issue be pushed off to January. Once the House adjourned for the year, any agreement the Senate came up with couldn’t be passed anyway, Republicans argued.

That’s after Biden made an offer conceding to many of the Senate Republicans immigration demands. Nothing was in writing, and Republicans initially scoffed at the offer. The problem for Biden is that the delay means opposition to his immigration concessions can harden among Democrats. The 42-member Congressional Hispanic Caucus held a press conference Wednesday to voice their opposition and tell Biden to reject the Republicans’ demands.

“Republicans are pitting vulnerable groups against each other to strong-arm policies that will exacerbate chaos at the southern border,” said Caucus Chair Nanette Barragán of California. “We are urging the Biden administration to say no. Do not take the bait.” Barragán also pointed out that the “negotiations are taking place without a single Latino at the table, without a single CHC member at the table, and not even consultation or engagement with our Latino lawmakers.”

Sen. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico reiterated that issue in an interview with Punchbowl News. “I do not see any Latino or Latina advocates at that table who are part of this conversation that are shaping this policy,” said Luján, who has also expressed his concerns about Israel’s war in Gaza.

The only one who is happy right now seems to be Russian President Vladimir Putin, who crowed in a press conference Thursday that "Ukraine produces almost nothing today, everything is coming from the west, but the free stuff is going to run out some day, and it seems it already is.”

Merry Christmas, Mr. Putin, from your friends in the GOP.


White House engages on Ukraine/immigration stalemate

Zelenskyy meets brick wall of Putin-backing Republicans

Senate Republicans hand Putin a propaganda victory

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McConnell’s health puts focus on shadow race to replace him 

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) health scare has Republican senators wondering whether the 81-year-old lawmaker will stay in the top job beyond the 2024 election and who might eventually replace him.  

McConnell plans to serve out his current term as leader and has given every indication that he intends to return as Senate GOP leader in the 119th Congress, which starts in January of 2025 — hopefully from his point of view with Republicans in control of the Senate majority.  

Yet Republican senators privately acknowledge that McConnell appears to be frailer since falling and suffering a concussion on March 9, which resulted in him being hospitalized for several days. The accident required rehabilitation at an inpatient facility and kept him away from the Capitol for more than a month.  

McConnell’s health came back into the spotlight Wednesday when he froze midsentence while delivering his opening remarks at the weekly Republican leadership press conference and had to step away from the podium and return to his office for a few minutes to recover.  

He later insisted that he was “fine” and declined to comment specifically about any health problems he may have, leaving GOP colleagues to speculate about how much longer he will serve as leader and who has the inside track to replace him. 

“I think the leadership race is well underway and this accelerates that,” said a Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss the fallout from McConnell’s health episode before television cameras Wednesday.  

The lawmaker noted that Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) ran the Senate floor this month during the debate and votes on the annual defense authorization bill, with his staff working in close coordination with floor staff to get agreements on amendments and resolve objections.  

“Thune is running the floor, he’s running the [National Defense Authorization Act] negotiations,” the lawmaker said. 

Thune helped get 80 amendments adopted to the defense bill — through the manager's package, roll call votes and voice votes — helping GOP colleagues ring up accomplishments.

The senator said the shadow race to one day replace McConnell has boiled down to Thune, Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), who previously served as Senate GOP whip, and Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.).  

“Cornyn has been very solicitous” about raising money for Republican senators who are up for reelection next year, showcasing his fundraising ability, which has been one of McConnell’s greatest strengths as leader, the senator said.  

Cornyn’s joint fundraising committee, the Cornyn Victory Committee, has raised $4.12 million for Senate GOP incumbents, future Senate GOP nominees and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) through the first six months of this year.  

Cornyn raised a total of $20 million for Senate Republican candidates in the 2022 election cycle, more than any other Republican senator with the exception of McConnell and then-NRSC Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.).  

“We hope to exceed that,” Cornyn said of what he plans to do for the 2024 election compared to the $20 million he raised for candidates in the 2022 election cycle. 

“Historically, I used to just raise money for the senatorial committee and let them spend it the way they saw fit, but I found that colleagues appreciate the [direct] help,” he said. “It saves them their wear and tear and a little time so they can hopefully maximize their fundraising elsewhere.” 

McConnell continues to be a major force in fundraising and any successor would have big shoes to fill in that area. 

Two outside groups aligned with McConnell, the Senate Leadership Fund and One Nation, raised a combined $38 million during the first six months of 2023, setting a record for the first half of a nonelection year. 

Republican senators say they view Thune, who is 62, and Cornyn, 71, as the front-runners to become the next Senate GOP leader.  

“I think those will be the two that run for leader when that happens,” said a second Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss the brewing succession battle.

The senator said “Cornyn’s been raising money for people for years” and has built a solid record as a major GOP fundraiser while pointing out it’s Thune’s “job” as whip to be managing the daily developments on the Senate floor.  

“I’m glad that he stepped up” during the floor consideration of the defense bill, the senator said, which came close to derailing because of an ongoing dispute over the Pentagon’s policy of paying for servicemembers to travel to obtain abortions.  

The senator said neither Thune nor Cornyn have said anything about running for McConnell’s job. But their ambitions to move up to the top job are an open secret.  

“The leadership is interesting times,” the senator remarked, noting that Thune and Cornyn “can’t discuss” their plans because it would be “rude” while McConnell is in the job.

Senators say Barrasso, 71, can’t be ruled out of the mix because he plays an important role as GOP conference chairman in pushing messaging strategy and could run as a more conservative alternative to Thune and Cornyn in a three-way race.

Barrasso, for example, voted against this year’s debt limit deal between Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Biden, which other members of the Senate GOP leadership supported. 

Former NRSC Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year, hasn’t ruled out another run for Senate Republican leader.  

He challenged McConnell in November in what became an intense and sometimes acrimonious debate over the future of the GOP conference before losing by a vote of 36-10. 

A Senate Republican aide said Cornyn has had to be more aggressive in angling for a future opening for Senate leader because he does not currently hold a position in the elected leadership. He had to step down as whip because of term limits in January of 2019.

“Thune and Cornyn are the two names that have been in the mix the most because they have both been whip, and everybody knows that Cornyn wants the [leader’s] job more than anything,” the aide said.  

Cornyn has held regular lunches and coffees with fellow Republican senators to help maintain his relationships with colleagues.  

He has kept ties with the conservative wing of the GOP conference by regularly attending Monday evening meetings of the Senate Republican Steering Committee. 

Thune and Cornyn have both publicly expressed interest in becoming leader in the future but have also made clear that the job is McConnell’s for as long as he wants it.  

Thune earlier this year waved off a question about running for Senate Republican leader as putting “the cart before the horse.”  

He stepped in to handle some of McConnell’s responsibilities, such as leading the weekly leadership press conference, while McConnell underwent rehabilitation after his fall.

Likewise, Cornyn this week insisted to reporters that he isn’t actively running to become the next leader. 

“There’s no vacancies,” he said. “And those [leadership] elections won’t be until November 2024. So I guess the short answer is there’s nothing to prepare for.”  

Barrasso has only said he would like to continue serving the Senate GOP conference in whatever way is most helpful to his colleagues.  

The Wyoming doctor was in the spotlight himself Wednesday because he came to McConnell’s aid after he froze in the middle of delivering his opening remarks at the press conference.  

Barrasso acknowledged to reporters immediately afterward that he was “concerned” about McConnell’s health since his accident in March but hastened to emphasize “he’s made a remarkable recovery” and is “doing a great job leading our conference.” 

Some Republican senators downplayed the incident, which McConnell’s office attributed to the leader feeling “lightheaded,” as a blip that doesn’t affect his ability to lead the conference.  

“Naturally, anytime it happens I think you’re concerned, but in terms of his capabilities and ability to lead, no, I’m not worried about his ability to lead,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).  

A third Republican senator who requested anonymity, however, said that some GOP senators feel they aren’t getting the full story about McConnell’s health, which is in turn fueling speculation about how much longer he will remain leader. 

“No one says what’s wrong with him,” the senator said. “I think there ought to be more transparency here.”  

Al Weaver contributed.  

--Updated at 8:00 a.m.

These 11 senators voted against the must-pass defense spending bill

The Senate passed its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Thursday night with widespread bipartisan support.

Just 11 senators — including six Democrats, one independent and four Republicans — voted against the must-pass defense spending bill, which next heads into the reconciliation process as the Democratic-led Senate and Republican-led House attempt to find a compromise.

The Senate version largely avoided the culture wars provisions in the House version, which passed almost entirely with GOP support, but it still authorizes a topline figure of $886 billion — a figure that was too high for some senators on both sides of the aisle. The topline figure last year was $816.7, up from $777.7 billion in fiscal 2022.

Here are the 11 senators who voted against the upper chamber’s version of the bill:

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.)

Braun said Wednesday that he planned introduced several amendments to the defense spending bill, which he argued was driving government glut.

“It’s the most important thing we do here in the federal government, but we don’t do any budgets over there, we don’t do any audits,” he said in a video posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “It’s all part of the problem of why we spend too much money and then borrow it from future generations.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

Markey called the $886 billion defense spending package “ridiculous" and claimed that the “bloated budget does not advance our national security.” 

“The American people have repeatedly heard from Republicans that we need to cut government spending—for education, for health care, for food assistance—and now they are enthusiastically throwing funding to their defense contractor friends,” Markey said in a series of posts on X.

“While I am grateful that the NDAA passed tonight includes my language to compel the [Department of Defense] to take the overdose crisis among service members and their families seriously, I can’t support a package that inflates military spending at the expense of working and middle-class families,” he added.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

Merkley similarly described the defense budget approved under the Senate’s version of the NDAA as “bloated.” 

“I voted against the excessive military spending in the NDAA,” he tweeted Thursday night. “The already bloated defense budget does not need to be injected with additional billions of dollars.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sanders explained his opposition to this year’s NDAA on the Senate floor Wednesday, pointing to several crises that lawmakers are seemingly overlooking while approving the large defense spending bill.

“We have a planetary crisis in terms of climate change. Our health care system is broken and dysfunctional. Our educational system is teetering. Our housing stock is totally inadequate. And these are just some of the crises facing our country,” he said.

“And what is very clear, I think, to the American people and to many people here in the Senate and those in the House, we’re not addressing those crises," Sanders continued.

He argued that Congress votes to increase the military budget every year with "seemingly little regard for the strategic picture facing our country."

“It just happens,” he said. “We don’t worry about people sleeping out on the street, we don’t worry about people who don’t have any health care, we don’t worry about people who can’t afford prescription drugs.”

Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio)

Vance said his vote against the defense spending bill was due to its commitments to provide Ukraine with “years of additional military aid.”

“I’ve worked in good faith throughout this process to secure as many wins for Ohio as possible, and I’m proud that many of those priorities have been included in the final version of the NDAA,” Vance said in a statement Friday. 

“However, I cannot in good conscience support the broader package, which commits the United States to years of additional military aid for the war in Ukraine,” he added. “It’s disappointing to me that these significant priorities that would benefit Ohioans have been bogged down with such deeply problematic foreign policy proposals.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.)

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

Senate moves closer to finishing Defense Authorization bill 

The Senate on Wednesday inched closer to wrapping up work on its version of the annual defense policy package as lawmakers push to complete their work by Thursday night and leave for their month-long recess.

Senators voted on three amendments on Wednesday evening to close in on finishing work on the National Defense Authorization Act. They are also expecting a late night on Thursday, with eight additional amendment votes slated as they rush towards the recess finish line. 

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told The Hill that lawmakers “could be” needed to stick around until Friday to officially finish up, pointing to a number of “odds and ends.” Those include a second manager’s package of amendments that members are trying to put to bed and a “handful of outstanding requests we have from members.” 

“It’s just a lot of moving parts,” Thune said, adding that the intelligence authorization package is also an item senators have to pass. He added to reporters later on that the process is “trending well.”

The Senate opened consideration of the NDAA last week and has tried to keep the package on the bipartisan rails that did not exist in the House. House Republicans passed an NDAA bill on their own that included a number of provisions related to the “culture war.”

“I’ve said repeatedly that the NDAA is an opportunity for the Senate to show we can work on the biggest issues facing our country through bipartisanship, cooperation, honest debate,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor. “That’s what we have seen play out so far here on the floor: bipartisanship.”

“The NDAA process in this chamber is a welcome departure from the contentious, chaotic, and partisan race-to-the-bottom we saw in the House,” he added.

The end-of-the-week process is not expected to be completely smooth sailing though. One stumbling block could come in the form of a push by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) for an amendment vote on a measure to give permanent residency to roughly 80,000 Afghans who’ve come to the U.S. following the country’s fall two years ago.

According to three Senate Republicans, the bill could potentially create issues completing the NDAA process as Klobuchar demands a vote. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) a supporter of her bill, told The Hill that he has heard Klobuchar is prepared to hold up the NDAA in the absence of a vote. However, it is considered an uphill climb for her to get a vote.

“It looks difficult to me,” Moran said. “It could be [a stumbling block.]” 

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a Senate Armed Services Committee member, added that colleagues are attempting to find a resolution later on and are committed to working with her to tailor the legislation as detractors believe its current language is too broad. 

“Sen. Klobuchar has worked hard at it, but so far the language she has presented is challenging for a number of reasons,” Rounds said. “We just don’t think the legislation as it’s currently written is going to get the job done.” 

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has held up her bill as he has competing legislation that is more limited in scope. 

Overall, senators have passed 16 amendments to the NDAA. 

Lawmakers earlier in the week overwhelmingly passed a couple of bipartisan amendments aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness with China. Two votes held on Tuesday won 91 votes each: one to boost transparency of investments by American entities in sensitive technologies in adversarial nations, and another blacklisting China from purchasing U.S. farmland

Those overwhelming votes earned praise from Schumer, who hailed the ability for members to “unite” to take on the Chinese. 

“It’s not often that 91 Senators can unite on a single measure, let alone two measures,” Schumer added.

Another amendment voted on early on Wednesday pushed by Sens. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) aimed at halting the harassment of our military members by debt collectors passed 95 to 4.

None of the three amendments considered on Wednesday night won the needed 60 votes to get attached to the bill. Headlining that group was one by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) that would have greenlit $10 million for an office to provide full-time Ukraine oversight. It failed 50 to 49. 

A side-by-side amendment pushed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that was related to the Ukraine bill failed by a wide margin. In addition, Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) amendment that would have reinstated service members who were booted from the military because they did not get the COVID-19 vaccine also was not adopted.

Once the Senate passes its NDAA version, the upper and lower chambers will have to meet to come up with a compromise bill. That legislation is highly likely not to include any of the partisan provisions or will include watered down versions of them in order to win support of at least 60 senators. 

Durbin tests positive for COVID-19 for third time in past year 

Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said Sunday that he tested positive for COVID-19, marking the third time he has contracted the virus in the past year.

The diagnosis means Durbin will miss votes in the Senate this week before Congress is expected to break for the month of August.

“Unfortunately, I tested positive for COVID-19 today,” he tweeted. “I'm disappointed to have to miss critical work on the Senate's NDAA this week in Washington. Consistent with (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, I'll quarantine at home and follow the advice of my doctor while I work remotely.”

The Senate is slated this week to consider the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House earlier this month along largely partisan lines. The legislation was met with sharp criticism from Democrats after GOP-sponsored amendments about abortion, transgender rights and diversity and inclusion initiatives were attached to the bill.

The Democrat-led Senate is likely going to reject the GOP-backed amendments to the bill, which was typically passed with bipartisan support in previous years.

Durbin also tested positive for the virus at the end of July 2022 and in March of this year. In recent months, COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths have remained low compared to the peak of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While individuals can have immunity once contracting the virus, reinfections can be considered to occur as soon as 90 days after the first positive test.

Nancy Mace and the myth of the moderate Republican

One of the supposed "moderates" in the House Republican caucus railed on Thursday against several right-wing amendments to the military budget bill. First, she did so privately.

“We should not be taking this fucking vote, man. Fuck,” Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina fumed, venting to her staff about an extremist measure overturning Pentagon policies to facilitate abortion access for service members. “It's an asshole move, an asshole amendment,” she added, according to Politico.

But once on the House floor, the 'moderate' Mace voted to pass the very amendment she had  privately blasted. The anti-abortion measure is now attached to the National Defense Authorization Act House Republicans approved Friday, 219-210, with the help of four Democrats.

Since the Democratically controlled Senate will never agree to the GOP's radical provisions, House Republicans' poison pill amendments risk delaying the must-pass funding bill, which includes raises for service members, among other critical needs. In other words, House Republicans are threatening national security and military readiness in order to advance their wildly unpopular culture warring.

Yet after voting in favor of the forced birther measure, Mace got on her public soap box, telling reporters, “We got to stop being assholes to women, stop targeting women and do the things that make a real difference.”

If she felt so strongly about it, reporters wondered, why had she voted for the amendment?

Mace offered the rather thin reasoning that, because the military doesn't reimburse travel expenses for service members getting elective procedures, it shouldn't reimburse troops traveling to get abortion services. She was, in her telling, trying to be "consistent."

Mace justified her decision to vote for the amendment by insisting it is not “military policy” to reimburse for travel expenses for an elective procedure and she is just trying to be “consistent.”

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 14, 2023

Kudos to Mace for the spectacular mental gymnastics. To her credit, she is consistent. But Mace isn't alone as a so-called "moderate" who continues to vote for measures advanced by the most radical members of her caucus.

In fact, all but three of 18 Republicans who currently represent districts Joe Biden won in 2020 voted along with Mace to deprive service members of both time off and reimbursement if they have to cross state lines to access standard reproductive care. The three Republicans who balked were:

  • Rep. Brandon Williams (New York’s 22nd) abstained from voting.

  • Rep. John Duarte (California’s 13th) voted against the anti-abortion measure.

  • Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania’s 1st) voted against the measure.

For reference, here's a chart of the Republican Biden 18, compiled by Daily Kos Elections.

Per @DKElections' calculations, these are the 18 House Republicans who sit in districts that Joe Biden would have carried (Why "would have"? Because of redistricting. We've recalculated the 2020 presidential results for the new districts that have since been adopted)

— Daily Kos Elections (@DKElections) July 14, 2023

It's worth remembering those 18 because, like Mace, they are often referred to as moderates yet they vote completely in sync with the Republican extremists now running the House. There is little, if any, daylight between them and the far-right extremists in the party when it comes to their votes.

Certainly, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York wanted the public to remember the five GOP members of the New York delegation who failed to vote in favor of preserving service member access to reproductive care. At a Friday press conference regarding the NDAA and the GOP’s poison pill amendments, Jeffries had a helpful visual display of each Republican, in keeping with a specific New York Democratic strategy to unseat every one of them next year.

Jeffries presser prop has an eye towards 2024, singling out NY Rs in Biden-won districts who voted for NDAA amendment on abortion

— Nicholas Wu (@nicholaswu12) July 14, 2023

But again, poisoning the NDAA with an anti-abortion measure (along with anti-transgender and anti-diversity provisions) certainly isn't an isolated incident for endangered Republicans in moderate districts.

Last month, all but one of the 18 Biden-district Republicans voted to refer a completely baseless resolution to impeach President Biden to a pair of committees for further investigation. The only Republican in the Biden 18 club who didn't support referring the resolution was Rep. Marc Molinaro (NY-19), who skipped the vote altogether.

Any of those so-called moderates could have voted against referring the resolution, sponsored by extremist Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado. Voting against referral would have been a vote to kill Boebert's harebrained antics, but none of them did.

The fact of the matter is that GOP extremists are now running the House Republican caucus, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hopelessly trying to mitigate the damage. Because McCarthy owes his gavel to the extremists, he can't risk shutting down any of their maneuvers, no matter how radical, ridiculous, or ruinous they are to the Republican majority.

It follows that the Republican "moderates" exist simply to cast votes in support of the extremists' agenda and complain to reporters while doing it—a role the traditional media clearly relishes. But voters in those moderate districts should take note, because the Republican Party gets more extreme every cycle. There's no room for Republican moderation anymore, except in name only.

Major votes in the past two weeks show House Republicans coming apart at the seams

It took two tries, but we finally saw something out of Congress that would have been unthinkable just over a week ago: Republican House members actually voted “yes” on impeaching Donald Trump—not a lot of them, but enough to squeak into the double digits. That’s not only a change from the first impeachment a year ago when the GOP voted in lockstep against it, but a serious departure from the Beltway media’s conventional wisdom, which relies on depictions of a House Republican caucus that’s well-disciplined and a Democratic bloc that’s in a constant state of disarray.

It wasn’t just the impeachment vote that delivered a serious hit to that stale CW, though. Three other votes taken in the past few weeks also show a Republican coalition that’s fracturing along multiple axes, and in rather unpredictable ways. It’s not entirely unusual to see, for instance, a few dozen Republicans peel off from the rest of the party from one end of the ideological spectrum or the other—either the most pragmatic or most extreme members—on a particular vote. But this quartet of recent votes have seen Republicans splitting off in every possible direction, and those splits haven’t always been on a predictable left/right scale.

That suggests two things: first, that there’s a significant leadership vacuum in the Republican caucus right now, and second, that there’s also a growing divide between authoritarians and non-authoritarians split within the party that doesn’t quite map onto traditional policy preferences. Both have serious implications for the GOP’s future.

The four roll calls where we’re investigating Republican voting patterns are the votes to:

This time, Trump was impeached by a vote of 232-197, with all 222 Democrats voting for it and Republicans voting against it 197-10. The Electoral College objection, meanwhile, failed 282-138, with Democrats again unanimously opposed but Republicans in favor 138-64. (Republicans also tried to repudiate Arizona’s electoral votes, but that garnered slightly less support, and in any case, no one voted to reject Arizona’s votes but accept Pennsylvania’s, making the latter a more meaningful vote to analyze.)

The second pair of votes both required two-thirds majorities. The $2,000 stimulus checks, which had to hit that threshold because the legislation was brought up on an expedited basis, narrowly exceeded the mark, 275-134. Forty-four Republicans voted for it but 130 voted against the plan, despite Trump’s support for the measure, while Democrats were 231-2 in support.

The override of Trump’s NDAA veto passed by a considerably wider 322-87 margin, with 109 Republicans actually opposing Trump and just 66 sticking with him. This was the only vote of the four that saw a sizable numbers of Democrats go against their party, with 20 opposing the override while 212 backed it. However, as we’ll discuss at the end of this piece, these dissenters were mostly from the party’s left-most flank and were voting to oppose the military’s enormous budget rather than to support Trump in any way.

Each of these roll calls alone shows a serious split within GOP ranks: Even on impeachment, the 10 Republicans who voted against Trump set a record for the largest number of representatives impeaching their own party’s president. But the divide goes much deeper.

With a “yes” or “no” vote possible on each of these votes, that gives us 16 potential buckets for members to fall into. However, not all of the House GOP’s 211 current members show up below because we’re only including representatives who participated in all four votes. That winds up excluding 64 Republicans, including all freshmen (since two of the votes took place at the tail end of the last Congress), as well as anyone who skipped one more or of these votes for whatever reason.

Still, we can analyze a meaningful proportion of the GOP caucus, about 70% of it in total. And underscoring the extent of the fracture we’re seeing, Republicans occupy no fewer than 11 of these 16 possible buckets, ranging from as few as one member up to 43. Democrats, by contrast, wound up in just three buckets, and almost all—196 of the 217 who cast votes on all four measures—were in just a single grouping. You can see these buckets, which we’ll examine one by one, visualized just below:

Of course, it’s possible to find any arbitrary set of votes that show various divides for either party, but this set is anything but arbitrary. Rather, these were four of the most consequential votes the House has been called upon to take since Trump’s first impeachment, and they all took place in a span of just 16 days, making them worthy of collective study.

To that end, we’ll start with the members who voted the way that Trump would have wanted each time: “no” on impeachment, “yes” on challenging the Pennsylvania votes, “yes” on bigger stimulus checks, and “no” on overriding Trump’s veto of the military budget. In other words, this was—in theory—the group of most maximally MAGA members:

Impeachment: no; Pennsylvania: yes; $2,000 checks: yes; Override: no (8 members)

Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25); Greg Pence (IN-06); Clay Higgins (LA-03); Jason Smith (MO-08); Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02); Lee Zeldin (NY-01); Chris Jacobs (NY-27); Michael Burgess (TX-26)

Interestingly, and encouragingly, there were very few members who took this approach. It’s possible that shows that Trump, whose outreach to Congress has been both ham-fisted yet perfunctory, and who has little connection to traditional Republican avenues of power, no longer has quite so much influence on the House. On the other hand, it might also show that while Trump’s odd mishmash of preferred issues and grievances has had a lot of resonance with low-information voters who haven’t felt at home in either party, it was never really a good fit for the Republican Party, which is not exactly known for either handing out money to people who need help or for telling the military to take a hike.

And while this group should superficially represent the most Trumpy brigade possible, it actually doesn’t include many members from the nuttiest ranks of the GOP—perhaps just Louisiana’s Clay Higgins (best known for his apocalyptic tweeting), and Indiana’s Greg Pence, who, in case it wasn’t clear from the last name, also happens to be the vice president’s brother and may share his sibling’s toadying tendencies.

Instead, this bucket contains a couple of GOP members with the most moderate (at least on a left-right axis) voting records but who are uniquely cross-pressured: Mario Diaz-Balart, who represents a mostly Cuban-American district in the Miami area; and Jeff Van Drew, who was elected as a Democrat but infamously switched parties during the previous impeachment.

Impeachment: no; Pennsylvania: yes; $2,000 checks: yes; Override: yes (13 members)

Robert Aderholt (AL-04); Rick Crawford (AR-01); Mike Garcia (CA-25); Ken Calvert (CA-42); John Rutherford (FL-04); Jackie Walorski (IN-02); Jim Baird (IN-04); Hal Rogers (KY-05); Jack Bergman (MI-01); Elise Stefanik (NY-21); Bill Johnson (OH-06); Frank Lucas (OK-03); Tom Cole (OK-04)

The next bucket features Trumpy Republicans who are anti-democracy and pro-stimulus but just couldn’t say no to the military. One unusual name in this bucket is Mike Garcia, who holds the bluest district in the nation that’s represented by a Republican (California’s 25th, where he narrowly won reelection in November after more comfortably winning a special election last spring) and is someone you’d therefore expect to take a more moderate path, perhaps up to and including impeachment. Apparently, though, he thinks a base-first strategy is his best path to squeaking out another victory in 2022, despite his district’s leftward trend. Another is Elise Stefanik, until recently an establishmentarian but who in the last year has seemingly gone all-in on using Trumpism as a means of climbing the leadership ladder.

Impeachment: no; Pennsylvania: yes; $2,000 checks: no; Override: yes (32 members)

Mike Rogers (AL-03); Mo Brooks (MO-05); Doug Lamborn (CO-05); Buddy Carter (GA-01); Mike Bost (IL-12); Jim Banks (IN-03); Mike Johnson (LA-04); Garret Graves (LA-06); Tim Walberg (MI-07); Blaine Leutkemeyer (MO-03); Vicki Hartzler (MO-04); Sam Graves (MO-06); Trent Kelly (MS-01); Michael Guest (MS-03); Steven Palazzo (MS-04); Virginia Foxx (NC-05); David Rouzer (NC-07); Richard Hudson (NC-08); Steve Chabot (OH-01); Bob Gibbs (OH-07); Dan Meuser (PA-09); Fred Keller (PA-12); Glenn Thompson (PA-15); Mike Kelly (PA-16); Joe Wilson (SC-02); William Timmons (SC-04); Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03); Mark Green (TN-07); David Kustoff (TN-08); Roger Williams (TX-25); Chris Stewart (UT-02); Rob Wittman (VA-01)

The next batch, which voted against impeachment and stimulus checks but supported challenging the electors and the military budget, is made up of more standard-issue, “normie” members of the Republican Party’s right flank, including a number (like Vicky Hartzler and Tim Walberg) who are known more for old-school social conservatism. Interestingly, though, one name here is Mo Brooks, who has been one of the loudest voices inciting violence and is a main target of censure efforts. Despite his links to Trumpism, he couldn’t get on board with COVID relief and couldn’t oppose the armed forces either. The latter is not a coincidence, since his Huntsville-area district is heavily dependent on military and aerospace technology, centered around the Redstone Arsenal.

Impeachment: no; Pennsylvania: yes; $2,000 checks: no; Override: no (43 members)

Gary Palmer (AL-06); Paul Gosar (AZ-04); Andy Biggs (AZ-05); David Schweikert (AZ-06); Debbie Lesko (AZ-08); Doug LaMalfa (CA-01); Devin Nunes (CA-22); Matt Gaetz (FL-01); Bill Posey (FL-08); Greg Steube (FL-17); Brian Mast (FL-18); Barry Loudermilk (GA-11); Rick Allen (GA-12); Russ Fulcher (ID-01); Ron Estes (KS-04); Steve Scalise (LA-01); Billy Long (MO-07); Dan Bishop (NC-09); Ted Budd (NC-13); Adrian Smith (NE-03); Jim Jordan (OH-04); Warren Davidson (OH-08); Kevin Hern (OK-01); Scott Perry (PA-04); Lloyd Smucker (PA-11); John Joyce (PA-13); Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14); Jeff Duncan (SC-03); Ralph Norman (SC-05); Tim Burchett (TN-02); Scott DesJarlais (TN-04); John Rose (TN-06); Louie Gohmert (TX-01); Lance Gooden (TX-05); Randy Weber (TX-14); Jodey Arrington (TX-19); Michael Cloud (TX-27); Brian Babin (TX-36); Ben Cline (VA-06); Morgan Griffith (VA-09); Tom Tiffany (WI-07); Alex Mooney (WV-02); Carol Miller (WV-03) 

The biggest bucket is also probably the most hardcore of the bunch: They’ll follow Trump not just on challenging the election but also on stiff-arming the military, but, true to form, they just can’t get on board with sending people money. Not coincidentally, most of the members of the Freedom Caucus (the most hard-right of the House GOP’s ideological blocs) are found here, and you’ll probably recognize the names of some of the loudest insurrectionists, like Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Matt Gaetz, and Louie Gohmert. One odd tidbit is that while this is a disproportionately Southern group, all four of Arizona’s remaining Republican representatives are here too.

Impeachment: no; Pennsylvania: no; $2,000 checks: yes; Override: yes (6 members)

Rodney Davis (IL-13); Pete Stauber (MN-08); Ann Wagner (MO-02); Chris Smith (NJ-04); Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01); Michael McCaul (TX-10)

Here we have Republicans from the somewhat more moderate end of the caucus who voted no on challenging the electors, and yes on stimulus checks and the military budget, but couldn’t take the final step of voting for impeachment.

One rather unexpected name is Texas’s Michael McCaul: He hasn’t had a particularly moderate record in the past but has faced increasingly difficult elections in his suburban district the last few times and may be trying to adapt. In a statement he released during the impeachment vote, he accurately prophesied, “I truly fear there may be more facts that come to light in the future that will put me on the wrong side of this debate,” but for some reason couldn’t take that final step.

One other surprise, from the opposite direction, was Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents a swingy suburban district outside of Philadelphia. Based on his overall record, Fitzpatrick probably was the likeliest Republican to vote for impeachment who ultimately didn’t. (He instead led the push for a “censure” alternative, which was a non-starter with Democrats.)

Impeachment: no; Pennsylvania: no; $2,000 checks: yes; Override: no (3 members)

James Comer (KY-01); Tom Reed (NY-23); David McKinley (WV-01)

What seems like the least coherent series of votes, at least for Republican members—against impeachment, against challenging the election, and for bigger stimulus, but also against the military budget—is also a bucket with only a few members in it. There’s also not much consistency here in terms of its members, ranging from northeastern pragmatist Tom Reed to very conservative southerner James Comer.

Impeachment: no; Pennsylvania: no; $2,000 checks: no; Override: yes (27 members)

French Hill (AR-02); Steve Womack (AR-03); Michael Waltz (FL-06); Vern Buchanan (FL-16); Drew Ferguson (GA-03); Austin Scott (GA-08); Mike Simpson (ID-02); Darin LaHood (IL-18); Larry Bucshon (IN-08); Brett Guthrie (KY-02); Bill Huizenga (MI-02); John Moolenaar (MI-04); Patrick McHenry (NC-10); Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL); Don Bacon (NE-02); Mark Amodei (NV-02); Brad Wenstrup (OH-02); Bob Latta (OH-05); Mike Turner (OH-10); Troy Balderson (OH-12); Steve Stivers (OH-15); Dusty Johnson (SD-AL); Dan Crenshaw (TX-02); Van Taylor (TX-03); John Curtis (UT-02); Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05); Mike Gallagher (WI-08);

This bucket features much of what’s left of the orthodox Republican establishment—not “centrist,” of course, but located around the ideological midpoint of the GOP caucus, which is still very conservative. This group is naturally anti-stimulus and pro-military, but while its members are not willing to play too-obvious games with democracy, they’re content to let Trump do much worse, which is why they opposed impeachment.

Impeachment: no; Pennsylvania: no; $2,000 checks: no; Override: no (7 members)

Bruce Westerman (AR-04); Tom McClintock (CA-04); Thomas Massie (KY-04); Tom Emmer (MN-06); Chip Roy (TX-21); Bryan Steil (WI-01); Glenn Grothman (WI-06)

These are the across-the-board “nays.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most libertarian-flavored members who remain (after Justin Amash’s departure; he voted against checks and the military budget, but was no longer in office for the Electoral College vote) are seen here, most notably Thomas Massie.

Impeachment: yes; Pennsylvania: yes; $2,000 checks: no; Override: no (1 member)

Tom Rice (SC-07)

The smallest bucket of all contains just Tom Rice, who represents a dark-red district in the Myrtle Beach area. While not a member of the Freedom Caucus, he does have a voting record that places him well to the right of the GOP’s midpoint. Were it not for his impeachment vote, he’d have wound up in the largest grouping, but instead, he’s all on his own. Rice’s vote was uncharacteristic enough that he might have simply pushed the wrong button during the roll call, but his subsequent statement acknowledged his surprising move: “I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years. I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But, this utter failure is inexcusable.”

Impeachment: yes; Pennsylvania: no; $2,000 checks: yes; Override: yes (4 members)

Adam Kinzinger (IL-16); Fred Upton (MI-06); John Katko (NY-24); Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03)

This batch, which voted pro-impeachment, pro-democracy, pro-checks, and pro-military, includes the low-profile but extremely durable Northeasterner John Katko, as well as Adam Kinzinger, who has recently become one of the most vocal anti-Trump Republicans. While Katko is one of the few Republicans who represents a district that Joe Biden won, and Upton and Herrera Beutler are in competitive districts, Kinzinger certainly isn’t; his main risk would be in a Republican primary.

It’s also worth noting that almost all Democrats also fall in this bucket. This excludes the 20 who voted against the military budget, and also Kurt Schrader, the lone remaining Democrat to vote against the $2,000 checks.

Impeachment: yes; Pennsylvania: no; $2,000 checks: no; Override: yes (3 members)

Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16); Dan Newhouse (WA-04); Liz Cheney (WY-AL)

Finally, here are the few Republicans who voted for impeachment and against challenging the electors, but who otherwise stuck to conservative orthodoxy. The biggest name here might be Liz Cheney, who’s No. 3 in the House leadership hierarchy, but who has been recently very critical of Trump. She could also be a potential challenger to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Minority Whip Steve Scalise in the future, but given the outraged calls for her resignation from fellow Republicans following her vote, her motives are difficult to assess—unless she truly imagines the GOP will embrace an anti-Trump future.

The other two members of this trio are sophomore Anthony Gonzalez, a former NFL star who represents a suburban district in the Cleveland area and has tended toward the moderate end of the caucus, and Dan Newhouse, who represents a conservative area in eastern Washington but is potentially insulated from a challenge from the right thanks to the odd nature of Washington’s top-two primary system. (Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon also followed this pattern of votes.)

The recent McCarthy/Cheney tension, in fact, points to how the growing fractures in the Republican Party don’t entirely map onto the traditional left-to-right axis. Cheney, for instance, has a somewhat more conservative voting record than McCarthy, at least according to the widely-used DW-Nominate system of scoring votes.

Instead, it’s more a clash between Trump-style populist authoritarianism (to which McCarthy is merely an accessory) versus the more old-school Republican elite traditionalism that Cheney embodies. It would be weird to say that Cheney is “anti-authoritarian”; rather, what she’s objecting to is that Trumpism is the wrong kind of authoritarianism. Maybe a better way of describing it is that traditional Republican conservatism is more about a decentralized, slow-moving form of autocracy that’s spread around a variety of institutions (the military, the judiciary, big business) rather than consolidated in a cult of personality around one very erratic person.

It’s certainly possible that these divisions will recede, especially once Biden is inaugurated and Chuck Schumer is elevated to Senate majority leader—Republicans, lacking any sort of affirmative agenda, have always enjoyed a more harmonious life in the minority where they simply oppose everything that Democrats put forth. But if they persist, they could mean more turmoil ahead for the GOP and undermining the party’s chances of reclaiming the House in the coming midterm elections.

P.S. We’ll close out with a look at the 20 Democrats who dissented on the override of Trump’s veto of the military budget:

Jared Huffman (CA-02); Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11); Barbara Lee (CA-13); Ro Khanna (CA-17); Jimmy Gomez (CA-34); Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02); Chuy Garcia (IL-04); Jim McGovern (MA-02); Joe Kennedy (MA-04); Ayanna Pressley (MA-07); Rashida Tlaib (MI-13); Ilhan Omar (MN-05); Grace Meng (NY-06); Yvette Clarke (NY-09); Adriano Espaillat (NY-13); Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14); Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01); Earl Blumenauer (OR-03); Pramila Jayapal (WA-07); Mark Pocan (WI-02)

Unsurprisingly, this list correlates very much with Progressive Caucus membership, as well as many of the left-most Democratic members under the DW-Nominate system. This indicates the vote was not pro-Trump but rather against current levels of military spending, with the possible exception of the inscrutable Tulsi Gabbard, one of only two Democrats on this list whose term ended after this vote and therefore wasn’t present for the Jan. 6 challenges to the Electoral College or the second impeachment vote.

All of these Democrats of course backed $2,000 checks and impeachment, and opposed overturning the election results, a pattern followed by zero Republicans.