Wednesday, February 5, 2014

party unity = gridlock

No wonder Congress didn't do much last year. CQ's annual rollcall analysis showed the highest levels ever of party unity: Ds and Rs poles apart and showing party loyalty. As National Journal's Elahe Izadi says:
House Republicans in 2013 voted with their caucus an average of 92 percent of the time, breaking the previous record of 91 percent in 2011, according to a new study from CQ Roll Call. The House GOP voted unanimously on party-unity votes—those that divided parties35 percent of the time, also inching past the previous record of 34 percent in 2010.

A look at the Senate offers a similar picture, but in reverse; Senate Democrats broke their previous record on party unity in 2013 when lawmakers voted an average of 94 percent with their caucus. Unanimous voting also reached a new high: the Democratic caucus voted unanimously 52 percent on party-unity votes, which shatters the record for either party in either chamber (the last high was 46 percent in 2011).
 Some of that unity was simple ideological agreement; some was defensive against primary challenges; and no doubt some was because of threats of punishment by the leadership. Whatever the causes, the results were the same.

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