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House Republicans do not need Jesus Christ as their speaker

- February 6, 2014

The resemblance is striking.
As House Republicans work out an agreement about lifting the debt ceiling, Rep. Patrick Tiberi  (Ohio) characterizes the challenge like this:

Right now, Jesus himself couldn’t be the speaker and get 218 Republicans behind something, so I think Speaker Boehner is trying his best to come up with a plan that can get close to that.

That’s an odd statement, given that Republican Party unity in the 113th Congress is, um, quite high, according to CQ Roll Call:

House and Senate lawmakers from both parties on average voted more often with their caucus majorities in 2013 than they did in 2012. House Republicans set a record for party support, voting on average with their caucus 92 percent of the time, up from 90 percent.

Here’s the graph:

(Source: CQ Roll Call)

(Source: CQ Roll Call)

Open Congress also reports the party unity score for every individual Republican in the House.  The vast majority — 210 of 232 in the list — have voted with their party 90 percent or more of the time.
This leads me to two hypotheses. Either the Democratic and Republican parties have simply grown increasingly ideologically homogeneous and polarized over time, making it far easier for them to maintain unity on most votes.
Or John Boehner is in fact the second coming of Jesus Christ himself.