All but one Republican in the New Jersey House delegation voted with the Democrats to put down a key spending-reduction amendment in the marathon session in the House on Friday, an action that might draw Tea Party anger.
At issue was an amendment, sponsored by Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) and other members of the Republican Study Committee, that would have reduced non-security spending to 2008 levels, thus cutting spending by much more than the $61 billion called for in the rest-of-the-year continuing resolution that the House passed early Saturday morning. Specifically, that amendment would have:
- Cut spending by 5.5 percent across the board in eight “non-security divisions” of the resolution, and
- Cut spending by 11 percent across the board in all legislative accounts.
That amendment failed of agreement, by a vote of 147-281.
Ninety-two Republicans joined all 189 Democrats who were present and voting to defeat the amendment. Among them: Representatives Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ-2), Jon Runyan (R-NJ-3), Chris Smith (R-NJ-4), Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7), and Rodney C. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ-11). By contrast, Representative Scott Garrett (R-NJ-5) voted for the amendment.
That LoBiondo, Smith, and Frelinghuysen have already been in Congress more than twelve years, while Garrett has not, might or might not be coincidental. (Lance is serving his second term after he won a hard-fought primary.) That Runyan also voted against the Jordan/Blackburn Amendment will no doubt disappoint the various Tea Party organizations that rallied to his defense in the last election.
The American Conservative Union and other conservative organizations have never been happy with the four senior Republican Members, who have ACU ratings of 68 percent or lower. All four faced Republican-primary and/or third-party challenges in the 2010 election; Garrett alone did not. Peter Frank Boyce of the Constitution Party challenged LoBiondo; Alan Bateman challenged Chris Smith in the primary; Lance faced no less than three Tea Party-inspired challengers, and Morristown Tea Party leader Richard T. Luzzi challenged Frelinghuysen in his primary.
The Tea Party was reluctant to carry most of those challenges through to the general election, primarily because control of the House was at stake then. The treatment of Boyce by certain Tea Party elements who preferred not to “split the vote” continues to redound to the Tea Party’s shame, in the opinion of several activists who have spoken about it to this Examiner on condition of anonymity. This will not be an issue in 2012, and some of those same activists had already begun to noise the third-party option about even before this vote took place. Their theory: that all too many New Jersey Republicans are no better than Democrats when it comes to “being more concerned with keeping their jobs than with doing their jobs.” This vote will only reinforce that impression.
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