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Broun, Gingrey Leaving Conservative Hole in House
Posted at 4:50 p.m. on May 21
The defeat of tea-party-aligned candidates in primaries across the country was a disappointment to conservatives, but perhaps nowhere will the hard-right suffer more from the establishment “Super Tuesday” sweep than in Georgia.
Two conservative House members now know for sure their Capitol Hill careers will expire at the end of this year.
Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey are perhaps two of the most committed conservatives in the House, and — both doctors by trade — two of the staunchest critics of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
“It’s going to be a big void to fill. You couldn’t have asked for more from Congressman Broun. He’s been there with conservatives on every single issue,” said Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action for America. “Gingrey’s been right there too. We’re losing two very, very good members of the House.”
Of course, in leadership circles the eulogy might read the exact opposite. Broun, 68, holds the distinction of the second highest Heritage Action score, voting lockstep with the conservative advocacy group on 96 percent of its key votes. As such, he has been a perennial thorn in the side of leadership.
He has said that global warming is a “hoax” and freely calls Obama a socialist, bragging in a fundraising letter last year that he was the first in Congress to do so. He live-tweeted that criticism and more, instead of attending the president’s 2011 State of the Union address.
But his disparagement has not been trained only on Democrats. He was one of the 12 members who voted against Speaker John A. Boehner’s bid to retain the gavel in the 113th Congress. (He cast his ballot for just-ousted Republican Rep. Allen B. West of Florida.)
Broun also frequently votes against leadership’s priorities, even those generally perceived to be conservative. For instance, he is one of the few Republican members to sometimes vote against Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s spending blueprints. He went so far as to pen a New York Times op-ed last year, explaining that Ryan’s plan “fails to seriously address runaway government spending, the most pressing problem facing our nation.”
But Broun is perhaps best known in Congress for his yearly barrage of appropriations amendments. He routinely offers more amendments than any other member, some of them dicing relatively minor amounts from appropriations bill, and most of them failing by wide margins on the House floor.
Aesthetically, he may be remembered for his affinity for taxidermy.
Gingrey, by comparison, was friendly with leadership, drawing a 90 percent Heritage Action score. But his voting pattern mirrored Broun’s as the Georgia Senate race heated up.
In Washington, 71-year-old Gingrey is best known for his stances on health care issues; he is the co-founder and co-chairman of the Republican Doctors Caucus, a group of GOP medical professionals who tried to influence health policy in the conference.
Last year, as part of campaign for the GOP Senate nomination, he ran ads vowing to repeal the Obama health care act in his first term or “go home.” As an OB-GYN, he told voters he’d delivered 5,200 babies.
Like Broun, he voted against Ryan’s fiscal blueprint, and Gingrey’s rationale was that it did not go far enough to repeal Obama’s health care law. He cast doubt on Obama’s assertion that he and then-Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met dozens of times leading up to the rocky roll-out of the health care law, going so far as to send a letter to Sebelius asking her to prove it.
Gingrey also trained his eye on changes to medical malpractice laws, and the House passed his legislation capping awards in 2012 and 2005, though the bills did not become law.
Gingrey and Broun belong to the Republican Study Committee and Gingrey is one of the House’s staunchest opponents of abortion, including in cases of rape or incest. He’s also a member of the Republican Policy Committee, which helps steer the House GOP agenda.
Broun and Gingrey pulled in 10 percent each Tuesday.
The Georgia delegation is losing one more: Rep. Jack Kingston advanced to the Republican primary runoff for the Senate race as Broun and Gingrey lost. Should he win the nomination, it’s not a straight shot to claiming the Senate seat left open by retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Democrats think their candidate, Michelle Nunn, has a fighting chance.
Either way, Kingston won’t be returning to the House come January.
Watch Roll Call’s Office Space video about Broun’s taxidermy interest: