Quick Hit: What Bipartisanship “Looks Like”

Yesterday, the House voted to defund a $450 million project to produce a second jet engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.  See articles here and here.  The fighter, which has two jet engines rather than the usual one, had been described by Defense Secretary Robert Gates as an “unnecessary and extravagant expense.”  So in the current climate of budget cutting, the amendment passed.  Nothing unusual, right?  Wrong.  The engines produced for this plane are made in House Speaker John Boehner’s district.  The Speaker, along with most of the House leadership including Eric Cantor, supported the amendment.  So what the heck went wrong?  House conservatives, including many tied to the Tea Party Caucus, broke ranks with their party’s leadership and joined a number of liberal Democrats to kill the project by a vote of 233-198.

I wondered: What’s that “look like”?  Here is a spatial mapping of the House with those voting to defund the project (yea) in blue and those voting to reject the amendment (nay) in red.  The x-axis is the traditional liberal-to-conservative dimension.  Those further to the right are the more conservative representatives and those to the left are the more liberal representatives.  I’m using Poole’s Common Space scores for lawmakers who served in the 111th (the 112th scores are not available yet).

Bask in the warm glow of bipartisanship.  Though a number of freshman GOP representatives were critical to killing this project, they are not included in the figure (because we don’t have sufficient roll call data to scale).  Still, the picture is pretty clear (and fun to look at).  Compare this vote to the House vote to approve the Affordable
Care Act:

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3 Responses to Quick Hit: What Bipartisanship “Looks Like”

  1. Thanks for this excellent way to visualize a bipartisan vote.

    Would you consider mapping Obama’s bipartisanship? The way I read it he makes an aggressively liberal, progressive statement which is in reality a signal that he will give the Republicans what they want, minus 10-20%, or another demand for a concession on their part. Perhaps a visualization of his statements (measured on a scale) followed by what he actually proposes (measured on the same scale) and then what he, or he and Congress together, actually do (same scale). Complicated, I know, but I also believe it will track it his mode of “governing from the center” in an illuminating way.

    • Jordan Ragusa says:

      I’m not sure what you propose can be done. Or at least I’m not aware of how to scale statements with roll call votes. What can be done, and what I have done in my dissertation for previous Congresses, is to compare what party leaders introduce with the final (enacted) bill. This way we can compare how lawmakers bargain across parties and chambers. I’m sure at some point I’ll get this done for the current Congress and post it here (just not until after all the data is available).

      Thank you for your comment.

  2. Pingback: The Amendments are Coming! | Rule22

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