Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Breaking Down the Debt Ceiling Vote

The House voted 221-201 to pass a clean debt ceiling hike for more than a year — and there are a few interesting trends hidden in the breakdown. (The Senate then passed the increase on Wednesday.)

Twenty-eight Republicans voted for the bill, which means this debt ceiling vote was the most extreme example of violating the principle that the speaker does not bring a bill to the floor without a “majority of the majority” — the so-called Hastert Rule, named after former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who broke that principle 12 times himself.

Before Tuesday, the greatest number of majority defections on a bill that passed the House was 41. (Coincidentally, Democrats and Republicans both achieved that same watermark. Democrats in 2007 with the “Protect America Act” and Republicans in 2002 with the “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.”)

But Tuesday’s debt limit vote now stands alone with the fewest number of votes from a majority on a bill that passed the House since at least 1991, when digital records of roll call votes became available.

GOP Leadership

Of the 28 Republicans voting for the debt ceiling, there were only four members of GOP leadership: Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, and Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois. As a matter of principle, the speaker rarely votes, making this one particularly notable.

But what is also notable is how GOP leadership was split on the measure.

The No. 4 Republican in the House, Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, voted against the legislation, as did other members of GOP leadership including National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon, House GOP Conference Vice Chairwoman Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, Republican Conference Secretary Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, and GOP Policy Committee Chairman James Lankford of Oklahoma. It’s worth noting that Lankford is running for Senate in Oklahoma.

GOP Committee Chairmen

Many of the first votes for the debt ceiling came from chairmen of various committees. Of the chairmen voting for the bill, there were: Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan, Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa of California, Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers of Kentucky, Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce of California, Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon of California and Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings of Washington.

That means 15 other GOP committee chairmen voted against the measure, including Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin.

GOP Moderates

Some Republicans who fall along a more centrist point on the political spectrum — the same ones who fought for a “clean” bill to fund federal operations during the government shutdown — voted “yes” on Tuesday. They include Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and three New Yorkers: Michael G. Grimm, Peter T. King and Richard Hanna.

Retiring Republicans

The politically tricky vote for a debt ceiling was made easier for those Republicans who are retiring. Included in that group is McKeon, Frank R. Wolf of Virginia, Jon Runyan of New Jersey and Howard Coble of North Carolina.

Vulnerable Republicans

Vulnerable Republicans were faced with a choice about how to vote Tuesday night. These Republicans aren’t vulnerable because they face tough primary challengers from the right; they’re vulnerable because they reside in districts with light Republican support. Those lawmakers facing bruising re-election bids in November who voted with Democrats are: David Valadao and Gary G. Miller of California, Frank A. LoBiondo of New Jersey, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania and Dave Reichert of Washington.


House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., promised that at least 180 Democrats would vote for a clean debt ceiling increase, but in the end, he and other party leaders delivered more than that. Only two members of his party held out and voted no: Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah and John Barrow of Georgia.

Matheson and Barrow are two of the House Democratic Caucus’ most conservative members, and both Blue Dogs typically join with Republicans on fiscal issues. Matheson is also retiring at the end of the year, removing any incentive that might be lingering to vote along party lines.

The full breakdown of the vote can be found on the House Clerk’s site, where you can see how each individual member voted.

Correction: 7:32 p.m.

An earlier version of this post stated that Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., voted “no.” He voted “yes.”

  • papacito9999

    It was Matheson, not McIntyre, who voted no. Also a retiring conservative Democrat with an “M” last name, so it’s easy to confuse

  • Don Turco

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ… non story……

  • Breaking Obama

    Please Join this Online Event and Invite your Friends!

  • R. George Dunn

    Until there is an actual fix to our getting government out of the economy, this will happen again and again until we collapse from the hyper-inflation it is creating. Sure, we cannot cut out safety nets now that we are hanging so far over the fiscal cliff, but it will not continue to work.

    We must have a change by making our domestic product competitive in our own land. FairTax and a couple of other steps will do just that:

    • Twinkie defense

      Hyper-inflation? What country are you writing from? Inflation in the US in 2013 was 1-2%. If anything that’s too low – deflation is dangerous (and makes it harder to pay back our debt).

  • John D Fronk

    As long as non tax-paying people can vote, we will never have any fiscal restraint and the tax payer will suffer. It is time for a flat tax and everyone must pay or they can’t vote.

    • DL

      he corporations and CEO’s really wouldn’t like that.

  • ltwtlooker

    Thanks Mr Fuller, MS Dumain and Roll call. Nicely written.
    All those GOP members who voted to pass this monstrosity and negated the Hastert rule need to be seriously looked at during primary season. It is obvious they don’t have the stomach necessary to keep the country from spiraling into debt beyond redemption. It is possible that it may be too late already too avert this coming disaster of high inflation resulting from the $10,000,000,000,000 plus the $7,000,000,000,000 added by Oprompter since 2009. That’s 17 trillion folks

    • dinthecenter

      The “Hastert Rule” is an abomination. I used to be a Republican. Now I’m an independent. This should be a country “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” It has become a country “of the parties, by the parties, and for the parties.” The Hastert Rule allows 117 congressmen, 27% of the membership of the house, to control the agenda of the country. That is profoundly anti-democratic. At some point, democracy should be about the will of the people, rather than a faction of either political party trying to craft procedural rules allowing them to “thumb their noses” at the majority and forcing their agenda down the throats of the people. By the way, this is the reason I can’t really feel much fondness for either the Republican or the Democrat party these days.

      • ltwtlooker

        I’m actually GOP by default. Fiscally very conservative and social issues center right more like a Libertarian Leave me alone and I’ll leave everyone alone too. Unless we wish to associate in which case we will determine how we interact between us. Your number is theoretically correct but numerically flawed. The RINOs are, 28 of 230, or 202 and I’m guessing they’ll be gone soon. The far left dems are about 180 . You may have noticed that 13 did not vote at all. This leaves roughly 40 indies. Therefore the indies like you control the balance of power The House actually reflects the majority will as a snapshot taken each 2 years. The Senate every 6. At this time a very small minority of indies and center left and right is controlling the agenda.They are those thwarting the majority rule you extoll. The intent of the Hastert rule was to keep the decisions in the hands of the largest faction at any time in a 2 year window to keep power from residing in the hands of the center independent minority.
        When Pelosi was Speaker she had the sway of a literal majority. The result a really crappy PPACA. The idea of universal healthcare has never been an issue. At various times both parties have tried to secure it. The issue for the Conservatives has always been that FED GOV is incapable of managing Healthcare. So far, PPACA has verified that conclusion. It also highlights the problems inherent in all branches of GOV being under the sway of one party.

        • dinthecenter

          I find your math puzzling. A majority faction of a majority party will almost never reflect a majority of the populace. Rather it is likely to run between 26 and 30 percent. That is hardly majority rule.

          • ltwtlooker

            What don’ you get? There are 202 conservative GOP House members and 180 leftists(dems and Socialists). There are 435 total House members this leaves 33 people controlling the decision. In this case, the current case, the majority is GOP Conservatives. Since House seats are allocated by porportion according to the census The majority of the people are represented by GOP. You seem to forget there are several parties in US House not just 2. The definition of majority is “greater number” If you prefer we could use plurality or relative majority. I realize that when talking to the left, who don’t know what the meaning of is, is or would tell lies when the truth will d;. rhetoric, semantics and parsing are more important than conveying a message that your average schmuck will understand..

          • dinthecenter

            Golly, the 33 you talk about combine, as they see fit, with either the 202 or the 180 to form a majority. Any way you cut it, 202 is not a majority of 425.

          • ltwtlooker

            Golllee, obviously you don’t know the meaning of majority is it Goober or Gomer? It is “greater number. Look it up. I’m surprised you read the Times most readers seem to have a grasp of the language

          • dinthecenter

            When I studied math it meant more than 50%. ‘Majority’ is not a synonym for ‘plurality’. Majority is “the greater number, more than half of the whole.” Actually, the only “Times” I read is “The Cape Cod Times.” As to grasp of the language, I’ll surely put mine up against yours any day.

        • Twinkie defense

          Whatever group of 218 can agree on putting something up for a vote, should be able to put it up for a vote. In fact it could be less – if there aren’t 218 who will vote for something, well then that legislation fails, and no harm done.

          “40 indies” don’t control anything if they can’t team up with the right or the left to call for a vote or have the opportunity to pass legislation.

          And I don’t care if the 218 are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, or an alliance of libertarians and liberals. It is un-American for a minority or plurality to be controlling the vote.

          Same with the electoral college and the presidential vote – direct democracy, one person one vote, let the person with the most votes take office. It will be a shamockery when a President is elected with a minority of the popular vote.

  • Red_Ruffansore

    Like the Dhimmicrats always’s for the chilrun. Well they best grow up with some stout drumsticks and a strong back because that debt load they’re going to be totin shore gonna be heavy. See you in November libtards, you will pay for the misery you have created, sooner or later the bills will come due.

  • Firey Hooks

    Despite Hussein Obama’s vicious threats, he hasn’t been able to panic financial markets. Here’s why:

  • Bitter Cold

    Here we find our resident marxist agitator, Hussein Obama, spinning another tall yarn:

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