Now that the Republicans have a majority in both the House and the Senate, they will stand united and govern the nation under a steady, conservative agenda, right?
Well, not exactly. Recent legislation has actually divided the GOP base, showing that they are not as united as the midterm elections might have projected.
The New York Times explained that the divide in the new Congress arguably started when 12 Republicans voted against two-time Speaker of the House John Boehner. After winning a third term, Boehner subsequently punished two defectors by kicking them off the rules committee.
Then, after filing legislation to defund the Department of Homeland Security in response to President Obama’s immigration order, House Republicans could not unify to end the legal recognition of child immigrants who entered the country illegally.
This week, Republicans decided to file an abortion bill that would enact a ban on abortions past 20 weeks. However, Republican Congresswomen objected to the legislation, forcing GOP leaders to propose another abortion bill that would limit federal funding for abortions.
Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican from Pennsylvania, summed up the divide within the Republican party perfectly.
“Week one, we had the vote for the speaker. Week two, we debated deporting children. Week three, we’re debating rape and incest,” he said. “I just can’t wait for week four.”
That is not to mention the Affordable Care Act. The Hill reports that Republicans have been under enormous pressure to undo the heath care law, but don’t know how. Some still want to repeal the law all together. Others call to eliminate certain provisions, including the 30-hour work week.
Real Clear Politics thinks the divide might rest in the freshman lawmakers who were just voted in to office last November. Analysis from the Brookings Institute shows that 40 percent of new Republicans come from districts that either Obama won in 2012 or Romney won by fewer than five points. They label these lawmakers as “Obama Republicans.”
While the results found that “Obama Republicans” and the rest of the party are united on tax policy, they are deeply divided on social issues. The charts below show that the freshman Obama Republicans have been much more silent on gun control, abortion and same-sex marriage than their Republican counterparts.
Even with a clear divide in their party, the Republicans are going to have to find a way to govern the nation. A few weeks into the new Congress, aside from the Keystone XL pipeline, Republicans have seen their agenda divide even their own ranks. Until Boehner gets his entire base in line, the problems will continue.