A vote to extend a payroll tax cut for middle-class workers while adding the cost to the national deficit posed a tricky political challenge for those House members who are facing tough reelections or primary battles against fellow incumbents.
Both parties acknowledged the need to move forward on the deal, which also extends unemployment insurance, but few found the vote a comfortable one. Voting for the bill invited charges of adding almost $90 billion to the deficit, but voting against it could be construed as supporting a tax hike on the middle class.
Of the members squeezed by redistricting into primary battles against fellow incumbents, most voted the same way as their opponents. Ohio Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich both voted for the bill, as did Illinois Republican Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Don Manzullo.
But in Missouri and Arizona, members lined up on opposite sides of the bill. Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) voted against the bill, while Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) voted for it. Clay was joined in his “no” vote by Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), who is running in the same district as Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), who voted “yes.”
Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.), two House members facing difficult reelection prospects, both voted for the legislation.
Most of the House members seeking seats in the Senate voted for the bill, with the notable exceptions of GOP Reps. Todd Akin (Mo.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.). Within hours of the House vote, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was hitting Flake, the GOP front-runner to replace retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), for voting “to raise taxes on Arizona families by $1,000 this year.”
One noteworthy “yes” vote came from Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.), who is pursuing the open Senate seat in his state. A Tea Party favorite and staunch opponent of deficit spending, Berg voted for the bill. But he touted provisions he had championed to provide states with flexibility in administering unemployment insurance that had been added to the legislation.