So late yesterday the House passed by a comfortable margin a temporary funding measure to keep the Highway Trust Fund alive until next May. Though it falls far short of the multi-year $300 billion fix the administration called for, it will likely get to Obama’s desk in some form that keeps the Trust Fund from going bust next month.
As Greg Sargent noted this morning, 181 House Republicans ignored the warnings from Heritage Action and Club for Growth that they would negatively “score” a vote for the measure. Is this a sign GOPers will ignore the Tea Party when the chips are down? And conversely, have Heritage Action and the Club lost their ability to count votes?
I don’t think so. Votes like this enable the hard-core conservative groups to build a negative profile on Members they may or may not decide to target in the future based on a broader set of considerations. Those who generally do pay attention to these commissars have little to fear from a single vote. I’m reasonably sure Heritage and Club lobbyists did not totally go to the mats to keep the road potholed. If I’m wrong about that, then maybe these guys are losing their grip. But in any event, it’s important to remember that on the really big issues, movement conservatives are pushing against an open door; the GOP has already conceded much of what they’re being told to do, particularly on matters of core ideology rather than tactics.