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Twelve worried men

"Twelve worried men" Continued...

Issue: "The new urban frontier," March 9, 2013

In 2011, a military pilot from Gohmert’s Texas district died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. When the Army would not transport the deceased soldier’s body beyond his duty station in Ft. Drum, N.Y., Gohmert, a former Army captain, arranged for transportation and accompanied the remains to Gladewater, Texas, where the family wanted the man buried. 

Gohmert has not refrained from finding unique ways to continue to press his case about the dire state of the nation’s finances. Late last year he was the lone no vote in the House on a measure to strike the word lunatic from federal law. He argued, “When the most pressing issue of the day is saving our country from bankruptcy, we should use the word to describe the people who want to continue with business as usual in Washington.”

Nearly two months after the speaker vote, it is clear that the dozen outliers did more than give Boehner a black eye. The Republican leadership has pivoted toward a more fiscally conservative position, and fiscal conservatives say they are now included in the GOP’s decision-making process.

As a result, the party united behind a strategy to approve a three-month extension of the debt limit (until May) with much less contention than with previous efforts to increase the debt ceiling. The move allowed Republicans to realign the upcoming series of fiscal deadlines in a more favorable order. They wanted the controversial debate over another long-term borrowing limit increase to occur last in the sequence of pending fiscal deadlines. (The first deadline is the March 1 “sequester,” or the already approved series of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts. The second deadline is a late March showdown over keeping the government running at current levels.)

Fiscal conservatives are not going to get everything they want. Their 2012 election losses already have led to tax hikes. But conservatives like the ones who voted against Boehner have made careers out of standing firm in the face of long odds. They continue to believe they are engaged in a moral battle over the country’s financial future. And they believe the upcoming debates allow them to take their case to the public that Washington’s runaway spending is the nation’s enemy.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee is WORLD's Washington Bureau chief. As a reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, he was embedded with a National Guard unit in Iraq. He also once worked in the press office of Sen. Lamar Alexander.

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