Rep. Steve King said he faced pressure from Republican leaders to vote present on the rule on the continuing resolution. The Iowa Republican was pushing for an amendment to ban funding for the health care law.
Democrats have launched a floor strategy that involves employing the motion to recommit — one of the few tools in the minority — to force Republicans to take tough votes on politically sensitive topics. And Republicans think their best strategy for taking the sting out of these votes is for all their Members to vote “no.”
Republicans “get that Democrats are using the [motion to recommit] as a transparent political attempt ... to derail our agenda,” the leadership aide said. “So of course we’re going to want to speak in one voice and in a unified way against their attempts.”
“The motion to recommit is a procedural vote that is used as a political move,” said Erica Elliott, a spokeswoman for Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “It’s a transparent attempt to keep us from doing what the American people sent us here to do: create jobs and cut spending.”
On Friday, a handful of Republicans initially voted in favor of a Democratic motion to recommit a GOP measure boosting review of federal regulations that could impede job growth. The Democratic proposal would have made preserving the safety of food, drinking water and children’s toys a priority of the review. But all the Republicans who initially voted “yes” changed their votes to “no” before the vote concluded.
Several Republicans who changed their votes said they didn’t face pressure from leadership to do so and they erred when they initially voted for the Democratic motion. Freshman Rep. Mo Brooks said he “absolutely” planned to oppose Democratic motions to recommit, which he described as “sugar-coated poison pills.”
“I understand when people are making motions of substance and when they are just trying to make motions for political purposes or campaign purposes, and the Democrats — so far — have not had any motions of substance,” the Alabama Republican said.
“Leadership has not suggested to me how to vote on any issue,” Brooks added.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions said he doubts Democrats will be able to use GOP votes on motions to recommit against them.
“What is inside the motion to recommit is not even known except — literally — the minute they offer it,” the Texas Republican said. “So it’s a procedural vote.”
Sessions said Republicans were advising Members “that they need to pay attention” to the motions to recommit but that freshmen were “learning on their own” not to vote for them.
Democrats, meanwhile, feel confident they are building up a reservoir of campaign ammunition.
“The constituents will decide whether they cast the right votes on this,” said Rep. Robert Andrews, whose input on procedural tactics has been solicited by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“I don’t think most voters think, ‘Well, it’s a procedural issue, it didn’t really matter,’” the New Jersey Democrat said. “You’re asked to express your opinion on something. And certainly if their answer is ‘because my party leadership told me to,’ I don’t think most voters will think that’s a very good reason.”