November 13, 2017

Reading The House Whip Counts

A Who’s Who of Who’s on the fence

by Chris Thomas

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Photo by Luiz Hanfilaque

The Hill has an excellent article listing a whip count of Republican Congressman and where they stand on the House GOP tax bill. Since the House is going to vote on this bill later this week the deadline to tell your Congressman what you think about it is fast approaching. Constituents of the Congressmen still on the fence have an outsized voice in this debate but the concerns of those Congressmen also represent the most contentious aspects of the bill.

The Most Important People In Washington

At least for the next few days, these are the most important people in Washington:

The “No” Votes

The folks on the fence matter but since we’re specifically talking about the Republican caucus, anyone with a “no” vote is a potential “yes” with enough pressure. Here’s who’s refusing to tow the party line and why.

  • Darrel Issa (R-CA 49): Changes to the State and Local Tax deduction.
  • Walter Jones (R-NC 3): The bill raises the deficit.
  • Leonard Lance (R-NJ 7): Changes to the State and Local Tax deduction.
  • Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ 2): Changes to the State and Local Tax deduction, $10,000 property tax deduction cap
  • Elise Stefanik (R-NY 21): Changes to the State and Local Tax deduction.
  • Lee Zeldin (R-NY 1): Changes to the State and Local Tax deduction.

Leaning No

  • Dan Donovan (R-NY 11): Changes to the State and Local Tax deduction.

Undecided

  • Justin Amash (R-MI 3): Amash didn’t even vote for the budget resolution that started this ball rolling. He’s a Freedom Caucus member, so he may be holding out for something with fewer compromises.
  • Andy Biggs (R-AZ 5): Biggs was undecided as of Nov 10th
  • Barbara Comstock (R-VA 10): Comstock was undecided as of Nov 2.
  • Ryan Costello (R-PA 6): Costello was undecided as of Nov 2.
  • Warren Davidson (R-OH 8): Davidson is another Freedom Caucus member. He bristles at the idea that the bill may raise taxes in the long term for some demographics.
  • Charlie Dent (R-PA 15): Leans moderate within the Republican party but favors the idea of tax reform.
  • Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ 11): Chairs House Appropriations. His district includes Morris County which has the highest per-capita income in New Jersey.

Leaning Yes

  • Scott DesJarlais (R-TN 4)
  • Mark Meadows (R-NC 11): Meadows is Chair of the House Freedom Caucus but doesn’t seem to share the doubts of some of his fellow members.
  • Ann Wagner (R-MO 2): Wagner wants to make some of the cuts retroactive for a year. She also favors the lack of built-in sunset provisions in the bill.
  • Mark Walker (R-NC 6)
  • Roger Williams (R-TX 25)

The Whip Count

There are presently 434 Congressmen in the House of Representatives which means that a bill needs 218 votes to pass. The GOP controls 240 seats which means that Republicans need to ensure that no more than 22 Republicans defect.

Not listed in this count are the following Congressmen, who, though not on the record in The Hill’s count, represent areas which should have overlapping concerns with the Congressmen vocally on the fence.

  • Chris Smith (R-NJ 4): Smith’s district has the same issues as the rest of New Jersey — high state taxes and urban property values which make the elimination of the State and Local Tax deduction painful.
  • Tom McClintock (R-CA 4): McClintock’s district is rural but on the more affluent side. His constituents will feel the pain of the SALT deduction elimination.
  • Jeff Denham (R-CA 10): Denham is in a split district so he’s going to be in a fight for his life next year. He could try to blunt that challenge by opposing this bill.
  • David Valadao (R-CA 21): Valadao is in a D+5 district. Unless he faces a serious primary challenge, there’s little incentive to back the national party here.
  • Steve Knight (R-CA 25): Knight is in an coin-toss district. Backing this bill could be bad for his political health.
  • Ed Royce (R-CA 39): Royce’s district is a coin-toss as well and was carried by Clinton in 2016. Besides being a close district, it is an affluent one as well so Royce’s constituents likely make significant use of the SALT deduction.
  • Mimi Walters (R-CA 45): Walters 45th district includes parts of Orange County, one of the more conservative regions of Southern California but also one of the more affluent. The district went for Clinton and Harris in 2016 and residents are likely to benefit from SALT deductions.
  • Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA 48): The 48th is a beachfront district overlapping Orange County in Southern California. Like the 45th it also went for Clinton in 2016 and sits in the top quintile of California districts by median income.

Tell Congress what you think!

The House will probably vote on the GOP tax bill on Thursday. Text RESIST to 50409 to tell your representatives or Senators what you think about this or any other issue before Congress or use Facebook messenger to do the same thing by clicking here.

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