House Republicans emerged from last week’s government spending debate with a plan that cuts $61 billion from current levels — a notable achievement that sets an important marker for the coming showdown with President Obama and Senate Democrats. In the course of the debate, 47 Republicans emerged as rock-solid conservatives willing to cut spending repeatedly.
More than 100 amendments were considered during the continuing resolution debate, 21 of which were unambiguous spending cuts. Heritage Action for America, a sister organization to my employer, compiled the votes on amendments that cut non-security spending.
The list includes some familiar names like Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and even a few members of GOP leadership. It also offers clues as to how Republicans might tackle spending cuts on two other measures in the coming months — raising the debt ceiling and producing a budget.
So who are the 47 conservative all stars? Listed alphabetically by last name:
Amash, Bachmann, Broun, Campbell, Chabot, Chaffetz, Coffman, Duncan (TN), Duncan (SC), Flake, Fleming, Franks, Garrett, Gowdy, Graves (GA), Heller, Hensarling, Herger, Huelskamp, Huizenga, Hurt, Jenkins, Jordan, Lamborn, Mack, McClintock, McHenry, Miller (FL), Mulvaney, Myrick, Neugebauer, Paul, Pence, Pompeo, Price (GA), Ribble, Rokita, Royce, Scalise, Schweikert, Scott (GA), Scott (SC), Sessions, Walsh, Wilson, Woodall, and Young (IN).
It’s refreshing to see the names of Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) and Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), all members of the Republican leadership team, on the list. Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), freshman representative to leadership, and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) also set a positive example.
Of the spending-cut amendments, most cut millions not billions, targeting programs such as the Legal Services Corporation (saving $324.4 million) or Amtrak (saving $446.9 million). But two of the amendments offered a real test of political courage.
A proposal from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) for an across-the-board 5.5% cut to non-security discretionary spending would have saved $22 billion. Another amendment, offered by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), would have cut funding to fiscal 2006 levels for a savings of $34 billion.
Blackburn’s plan, backed by the conservative Republican Study Committee, lost by a vote of 147-281 with 92 Republicans siding with all Democrats. Half of the GOP leadership team, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), voted against the RSC’s proposed cuts.
(Cantor, who endured a scathing rebuke from RedState’s Erick Erickson this week, opposed the two largest spending cuts, but voted for the other 19. McCarthy supported 18 of the 21 cuts.)
The good news for conservatives is that the 47 all stars outnumbered the 18 Republicans who were most reluctant to cut spending. They included several appropriators:
Reichert, LaTourette, Biggert, Gerlach, Simpson, Diaz-Balart, Smith (NJ), Bass, Frelinghuysen, Wolf, Wittman, Dent, Dold, Grimm, Kinzinger, Meehan, Stivers, and Young (FL).
Disappointing as they were, these Republicans weren’t nearly as bad as the 95 Democrats who failed to vote for a single amendment that cut spending or the 42 others who opposed every cut but one.
Heritage Action’s analysis included only unambiguous spending cuts, not amendments that shifted spending or blocked policies such as defunding Obamacare or restricting the Environmental Protection Agency’s rulemaking authority.