Broun, Gingrey Leaving Conservative Hole in House

Posted May 21, 2014 at 3:51pm
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Broun, above, and Gingrey didn’t make the Georgia Senate runoff, so they’ll be going home at the end of this session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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.