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: