Heated tensions during fiscal cliff debate set the stage for a rocky 113th Congress

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, January 2, 2012

House Speaker John Boehner ‘s (R-Ohio) quip to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) after talks at the White House failed last Friday afternoon pretty much sum up perfectly what the last few days have been like for Congress and President Obama: “Go f— yourself.”

Tensions have been high for months as Congress and the White House struggled to produce a bill that would avert the effects of the 2011 Budget Control Act from becoming law on January 1st, even creating conflicts within party leadership circles that will reverberate when the next Congress is sworn in tomorrow afternoon.

Republicans appear to be the most divided, especially after last night’s vote in the House. Boehner’s decision to bring the Senate’s bill to a vote without amendment irked many members of the caucus, including his own leadership team. Sixty percent of the caucus – 151 Republicans in total – voted against the bill, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Already one conservative organization, American Majority Action, has called for Boehner’s removal as Speakerduring the 113th Congress. Only 16 Republicans need to oppose Boehner’s nomination for him to lose the gavel.

While the world waited on New Year’s Day to see if the House would bring the bill to a floor vote, Tea Party conservatives were upset with the number of Republicans that supported the final deal. Only five of the chamber’s 47 Republicans ultimately voted against the bill, including Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rand Paul (R-KY). One surprising aye vote was from Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who had previously served as President of the anti-tax Club for Growth.

One of the controversial matters leading up to the vote was whether or not Republicans who had signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge while campaigning for office would be reneging on their original word. According to the organization’s founder, Grover Norquist, this was not the case:

The Bush tax cuts lapsed at midnight last night. Every R voting for Senate bill is cutting taxes and keeping his/her pledge.

-Tweet from @grovernorquist, January 1st, 2013

While not as divided, Democrats were not thrilled with the outcome of yesterday’s vote as well. Reid, who was largely left out of the discussions that created the Senate bill, felt that Democrats could have still gained more ground and even threw his own copy of the legislation into a fireplace in protest. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), on the other hand, was forceful in getting her caucus to support the legislation, and in the end only 16 Democrats voted against the bill.

Despite the fact that President Obama has not yet signed the bill into law discussions on the matter will still linger into the 113th Congress. If the past few days have been any indicator of what things are going to be like between and within the parties, however, America’s in for a bumpy ride in 2013.


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