Debt vote shows freshmen Dem concerns

As Democrats face growing tension between their legislative and campaign demands, Thursday's House vote to approve a $1.9 trillion increase in the federal debt ceiling underscored the dilemmas that lie ahead in this campaign year and how party leaders will seek to accommodate them.

It was no surprise that the 217-212 vote to approve the rule setting terms of the debate included no Republican supporters. More revealing were the 37 Democrats who voted no. Of that total, there are 24 first-termers, nine sophomores, and only four more senior members, of whom three are Southerners.

They included 20 of the 26 Democrats elected in November 2008 to seats that had previously been held by Republicans, plus four others who won special elections in the past two years -- three in what had been GOP-held seats.

The fact there were "no" votes from only nine of the 26 Democrats first elected in 2006 in Republican seats revealed that group's greater level of political confidence, and the fact that many took districts that were low-hanging fruit for House Democrats.

Most of these members already are facing serious re-election contests or seeking to avoid bad votes that could give grist to a campaign challenger. But as a group, many have shown that they can be Democratic team-players, when possible.

So, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., prowled the floor during the debt-limit vote, it was revealing that at least four of these Democrats voted no only after the measure had secured sufficient votes to assure passage: Reps. Bill Foster and Debbie Halvorson of Illinois, and Scott Murphy and Bill Owens of New York.

From another perspective, of the 48 House Democrats who hold districts that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., won in 2008, only 19 voted against the debt-ceiling increase.

The remaining 29 Democrats, most of whom are relatively senior, include five House committee chairmen and four Democrats who have announced their retirements since December.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.