After losing control of the House of Representatives for the last two years of Trump’s presidency, Republicans regained control of the House after the midterm election of 2022. This control began with the 118th Congress in January 2023 and will last until January 2025. In the Senate, Republicans are in the minority. And of course, there is a Democrat in the White House who can veto any legislation favorable to Republicans.
With Democratic control of the Senate and the White House, and only a slim Republican majority in the House, Republicans are the opposition party. But what are Republicans opposing?
To accurately judge how Republicans in Congress are opposing the Democrats, I judge them on their votes as found in “The Freedom Index: A Congressional Scorecard Based on the U.S. Constitution.” The Freedom Index “rates congressmen based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.” It is published by The New American magazine, where I am a contributing columnist.
The new edition of the Freedom Index is the second for the 118th Congress, and looks at ten key measures. Scores are derived by dividing a congressman’s constitutional votes by the total number of votes cast and multiplying by 100. So, the higher the score the better.
This edition tracks congressional votes in the House on abortion services, Ukraine aid, DEI funding, FAA reauthorization, electronic identification ear tag mandate, migration and refugee assistance, UNESCO funding, the Continuing Appropriations Act, national monument declarations, and the “kill-switch” mandate.
It tracks votes in the Senate on the EPA truck emissions rule, the ATF firearm brace rule, declaration of war, Covid vaccine mandates, the Continuing Appropriations Act, mask mandates, the U.S. military in Niger, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the student loan repayment rule, and spending reductions.
The average Democratic House score was 2 percent; the average Republican House score was 63 percent. The average Democratic Senate score was 3 percent; the average Republican Senate score was 66 percent. Twenty Republican members of the House and three of the Senate earned a perfect score of 100.
On the surface, it looks as though Republicans are doing a good job of opposing the Democrats. However, two things should be noted.
First, it doesn’t take much courage for a Republican to vote against Covid vaccine and mask mandates or government funding for abortion, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) officials, national monument declarations, or UNESCO.
Second, scores of 63 and 66 percent, although much higher than the scores of the Democrats, are appalling. When I was a teacher, test scores in the 60s were considered to be Ds or Fs, depending on the grading scale used.
And third, on certain key votes, the majority of Republicans voted with the Democrats. For example, in the House, less than half of Republicans voted
for an amendment that would prohibit the use of federal funds to provide security assistance to Ukraine,
for an amendment to prevent funds from being used to mandate electronic identification ear tags for cattle and bison,
against reauthorization of the FAA, and
against the continuing resolution to appropriate federal government funding at fiscal 2023 levels.
In the Senate, only 16 Republicans voted for an amendment “to express the sense of Congress that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty does not supersede the constitutional requirement that Congress declare war before the United States engages in war.” Only 9 Republicans voted against the continuing resolution to appropriate federal government funding at fiscal 2023 levels. Only 6 Republicans voted against a joint resolution to direct the president to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting Niger.
A brief look at some of these key votes shows that when it comes to the critical issues of foreign policy, federalism, and government spending, the majority of Republicans don’t oppose the Democrats at all, but they do oppose the Constitution.