Of the fifty-four House Republicans who bucked GOP leadership today by voting against a GOP short-term spending bill, twenty-one were freshman and twenty-three were members of the House Tea Party Caucus. But another group of at least a half-dozen lawmakers emerged as thorns in members of GOP leadership's side- members with ambitions higher than the House of Representatives.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced Monday that he would oppose the three-week spending bill to avoid a government shutdown while cutting $6 billion at the same time. Flake is running for Arizona's U.S. Senate seat that Sen. Jon Kyl will leave when he finished his third term at the end of next year. He argued that the second short-term funding measure of the last month is getting in the way of other important business.
"How are we ever supposed to tackle the grave fiscal challenges before us like the debt ceiling, the debt, and the FY2012 budget when we just keep punting on FY2011 spending?" asked Flake in a statement announcing his decision to oppose the bill.
Flake's possible primary opponent, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), also voted against the measure. He would be a more conservative candidate, largely because of immigration stances, than Flake if he gets in the game.
Another no vote came from a former member of the House GOP leadership team. It's long been thought that Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) would run for President or Indiana governor, especially after stepping down from that leadership position. Pence has now ruled out running for President, but his eye is clearly on the governor's mansion. Pence came to the House Floor today to slam the spending bill.
"You know, with a $14 trillion national debt, a $1.65 trillion deficit this year alone, our federal government is facing a fiscal crisis of unprecedented proportions" he said. Pence announced he's oppose the short-term bill and ended his speech with by saying it's "time to pick a fight." Pence took issue with the three-week funding bill not only because he said it doesn't go far enough to cut spending, but also because it does not include language that he wrote banning taxpayer funds for Planned Parenthood. That language was included in the larger spending bill with $61 billion in cuts that the House passed last month.
Rep. Danny Rehberg (R-MT) of Montana cast a no vote since the bill did not include his language from that bigger bill to block funds for the new health care bill's implementation. Rehberg has already announced he'll take on one-term Democrat Jon Tester for Montana's open U.S. Senate seat.
And though it remains unclear if Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) is ready for another Senate run after just getting back to Congress, he certainly is keeping his option open. And was another no on the bill today. Same with Todd Akin (R-MO), the six-term congressman who may be eyeing a rung against the Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.
And finally, possible Presidential contender and Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was a no. She made the argument that a vote for the short-term spending measure to avoid a government shutdown was a vote to not fight against President Obama's health care bill.
"Today I will be voting to continue the fight against ObamaCare" said Bachmann in a statement today. "That means I have to vote against the temporary government funding measure that has been proposed by House leaders. This latest Continuing Resolution (CR) does not contain necessary language to defund ObamaCare and stop its implementation."
As negotiations continue with the Senate on a bill that would allow Congress to keep government doors open through the end of the fiscal year in September, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will face the challenging task of relying on House Democrats to pass a bill, as he did today, or he'll need to find a way to bring all these contingents back to the table and open to compromise. The question for these members with high ambitions during that next round is whether compromise will be a dirty word for candidates in the 2012 elections.