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Has there ever been a case where a majority of a political party votes one way on some bill in the Senate but a different way on the same bill in the House of Representatives?

For example, has a majority of the Republican Party in the Senate ever voted for a bill while a majority of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives voted against that bill? Has this ever happened with the Democratic Party?

I don't mean the party having a majority. I mean for example if a bill to repeal the Patriot Act is being voted against by the Republican Party in the Senate but being voted for by the Republican Party in the House of Representatives during the same Congress (for example 119th Congress). Not several years and different congresses apart.

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    Unlike in many European countries, party discipline is quite lax in the USA. It is considered normal for bills to get support (and opposition) from a mixture of parties. Mitch McConnell(Rep) voted for bills that Biden proposed 59% of the time. Rick Scott(Rep) only supported Biden 13%, and Elizabeth Warren(Dem) votes against Biden intent 4% of the time.
    – James K
    Commented May 6, 2023 at 19:47
  • @JamesK it is not clear to me that the numbers you've provided show lax party discipline, they could equally be explained by high numbers of trivial or procedural bills that no one feels any concern voting for regardless of where they come from. To show the support mix you claim, I think you'd need to show at least one Rep who voted with Biden more than at least one Dem. Or the reverse under Trump.
    – Jontia
    Commented May 7, 2023 at 18:26
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    The corresponding figures for the UK would be 100% of Conservative MPs voted for conservative bills and 100% of labour voted against. If an MP votes against their party it is a big deal. Things are different in the Lords. Granted, we don't spend our valuable legislative time naming post offices. And there are bipartisan bills, and bills given a free vote etc. But my comment doesn't actually answer the question in any way just providing context. In the UK, Mitch would have been expelled for lack of loyalty.
    – James K
    Commented May 7, 2023 at 18:40
  • I'm not sure I've come across MPs being expelled for a lack of voting loyalty, outside the Johnson 2019 Brexit rebels kerfuffle anyway. I still think the point stands that those raw numbers say more about what gets voted on that it does about significant party discipline.
    – Jontia
    Commented May 7, 2023 at 19:02

2 Answers 2

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Has a majority of one political party in one house of Congress ever voted in opposition to the same party in the other house in the same Congress?

Yeah, while certifying the presidential election in Jan 2021:

A hundred and thirty-nine House Republicans and eight senators voted against certifying some of the Electoral College votes [...] on January 6th.

139 is a [slight] majority of the 213 [or so] seats that Republicans had in the House. I'm not exactly sure why, but Reuters puts that latter total at 221, which still makes 139 an intra-party majority in the House. (The Reuters total of 221 doesn't even seem to match the pictures they show, which are only 211, by my count. So 221 is probably a typo.) There were 51 Republican Senators at the time; this went down to 50 only on Jan 20. So 8 Republican Senators was [rather clearly] an intra-party minority. The votes were actually taken by state (election). The numbers reported in the press were probably an aggregation of the two states results that had objections registered. More precisely Republicans objected to the AZ election results: 121-83 (House) and 6-45 (Senate); for the PA election result: 138-64 (House) and 7-44 (Senate). Furthermore, initially, about 14 Republican Senators had informally announced they'd object to at least one state result (they still would have been a minority among Senate Republicans, barring some contagion during the actual vote). But this number apparently went down after the invasion of Congress by Trump supporters.

But note that this is technically not "on some bill", as the rest of the Q asks. (Also, the certification happens as a joint session.)


Inspired by CDJB's answer, I've looked at the other debt ceiling extension bills. And sure enough, in 2002 most (36, if I counted right) Democratic Senators voted for it (14 opposed though), whereas in the House the Democratic vote was 3-206 against. Interestingly enough, the next year's [2003] extension was however overwhelmingly opposed by Democratic Senators as well--only two voted for it. But it passed the House via a "deem and pass", i.e. with no explicit vote on it.

The 1984 ceiling increase also has a somewhat hilarious story behind it. The Congress record shows it as:

10/12/1984  Passed/agreed to in Senate: Passed Senate without amendment by Yea-Nay Vote. 37-30. Record Vote No: 292.
10/12/1984  Failed of passage/not agreed to in Senate: Failed of passage in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 14-46. Record Vote No: 290.
10/01/1984  Passed/agreed to in House: Passed House by Unanimous Consent.

According to the contemporary NYT article, in the first Senate vote of the day, the Democratic Senators had decided to teach Republicans a lesson, because they had been campaigning on the trail against the limit increase. So they forced Republican Senators back to Congress for a vote, which they had not expected because of the unanimous passage in the House (as well Democratic Senators support in the prior years).

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Yes, there are plenty of examples - some particularly notable ones:

In 1965 when passing the Social Security Amendments of 1965, which resulted in the creation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, when the House voted on July 27th to adopt the joint conference report the bill was narrowly supported by House Republicans by a margin of 70-68. A day later in the Senate, Republican Senators voted against the bill, with 13 in favour and 17 against. The bill passed with the support of their Democrat colleagues, and was signed by President LBJ two days later.

Slightly more recently, the final amendments to the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 were opposed by Republican Representatives by a margin of 45-149, but were supported in the Senate by a margin of 27-13.

On the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which was designed to help address the 'fiscal cliff' at the end of 2012, the Senate overwhelmingly supported the bill, with just five Republicans opposing the passage compared to 35 in support. In the House, Republican opposed the bill 85-151.

Later in 2013, the government shutdown was resolved by the passage of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 - supported by Senate Republicans but opposed by the party in the House. Similarly, in 2018, Senate Democrats supported a short-term spending bill to end a government shutdown which was signed by the President despite House Democrats being opposed.

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