It’s easy to blame the House Republicans for the failure of the $700 billion bailout bill today, but the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza has the real story:
The data suggest that this bill was far from a political winner for members of Congress set to face voters in 36 days.
And, for vulnerable Republicans who believe that the free-spending attitude of Congress and the Bush Administration was either partially or primarily responsible for their ouster from majorities in the House and the Senate in 2006, the idea of floating the federal government another $700 billion was simply unpalatable.
It’s no coincidence then that of the 205 Members who voted in support of the bill today, there is only one — Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) — who finds himself in a difficult reelection race this fall. The list of the 228 “nays” reads like a virtual target list for the two parties.
There’s only one person in Congress who was willing to justify their vote to approve in this political climate. The truth is that there’s nobody in Washington who wants to pass a bill like this, and the fact that only lame ducks and legislators in safe seats are willing to come out and support it tells me that it may very well be awful tasting medicine that we really do need.
Update: FiveThirtyEight has a more detailed breakdown. The “competitive district” effect is not as pronounced as Cillizza makes it sound.
Update 2: It should also be noted for the sake of completeness that Republicans voted two to one against the bill, over the beseeching of the Majority Leader, President, and their Presidential candidate. 60% of Democrats voted for the bill.