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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Competing Democratic and Republican proposals to extend (and in the former case, expand) the payroll tax cut for workers enacted at the start of this year each received roll call votes in the Senate this week, and while the Democratic plan gained majority support only to fall short of the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster, the more interesting numbers were on the Republican plan. There, senators facing potentially tough general election fights like Scott Brown in Massachusetts and Dean Heller in Nevada were more likely to back party leadership and support a payroll tax cut extension, even as a majority of Republicans rejected it.

The dynamic where leaders and senators who actually might face Democratic challengers find themselves diverging from rank-and-file conservatives played out over the summer when it took a lot of wrangling for John Boehner to pass a debt-ceiling increase in the GOP-controlled House.