As the Joint Select Committee on Debt Reduction charged with finding $1.5 trillion in savings in the federal budget begins its work in earnest, a look at past votes on money matters by the lawmakers that are part of this powerful group provides clues to how they’ll approach their task.
Many of these lawmakers’ votes on budget resolutions past, bailouts, stimulus, health care, and defense spending are party line, or, in the case of much of the military spending, unanimous.
Sen. Max Baucus, D., Mont., however, has stepped across the aisle on several key occasions. In 2001, when President George W. Bush first took office, he was a key negotiator in the deal to pass his signature tax cuts, much to many of his fellow Democrats’ displeasure. He also supported President Bush’s Medicare prescription drug plan, one of a minority of Democrats to vote for it.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R., Penn., comes across as a bit of a maverick. As a member of the House, he voted against Bush’s Medicare drug plan, one of just 25 GOP members to do so. He’s also the only Republican member of the super committee who voted against the continuing resolution last April that averted a government shut down. And he voted “no” on August’s debt ceiling vote that set up the apparatus for the super committee.
Rep. Xavier Becerra, D., Calif., defied the majority of his party by voting “no,” on the legislation that set up the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), that bailed out big banks after the 2008 financial meltdown. He also voted “no” on both April’s continuing resolution and the summer debt ceiling vote. His “no” streak also marks him as the only House member of the super committee to vote against this year’s defense spending bill. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D., S.C., joined Becerra in voting against April’s continuing resolution but was a “yes” on the debt ceiling vote. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R., Texas, was a “no” vote on TARP.