This post will be updated to reflect the growing defections.
Every day, more Republicans in Congress are backing away from Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquit’s anti-tax pledge. For more than 20 years, the pledge, which stipulates that those who sign will never — under any circumstance — vote to raise taxes while in Congress, has virtually been a requirement for Congressional Republicans. According to ATR, just 16 of the 234 House Republicans and 6 of the 45 Senate Republicans that comprise the 113th Congress did not sign the pledge.
However, the pledge may not have the staying power it once did. As of this writing, more than two dozen House Republicans — including Majority Leader Eric Cantor — and 11 GOP senators have distanced themselves from the pledge to one degree or another. Here are just a few examples or what members had to say:
— Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH): “The only pledge that keeps me up at night is the pledge I owe to the people of New Hampshire and our country to work as hard as I can to make sure America doesn’t go bankrupt.”
— Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA): “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge . . . I don’t worry about that because I care too much about my country. I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist.”
— Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “Well, I’m not obligated on the pledge. I made Tennesseans aware, I was just elected, that the only thing I’m honoring is the oath I take when I’m sworn in this January.”
— Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA): “When I go to the constituents, it’s not about that pledge. It’s about trying to solve problems.”
— Rep. Peter King (R-NY): “A pledge is good at the time you sign it . . . In 1941, I would have voted to declare war on Japan. But each Congress is a new Congress. And I don’t think you can have a rule that you’re never going to raise taxes or that you’re never going to lower taxes. I don’t want to rule anything out.”
— Rep. Timothy Johnson (R-IL): “I would never in a million years have considered this as some kind of a locked-in-granite pledge. Frankly, I didn’t even remember it. That shows you how obscure it was to me.”
Other Senators that have signed the pledge and distanced themselves from Norquist include Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). House Republicans also jumping ship include: Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY), Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI), Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA), Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ), Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), Rep. John Kline (R-MN), Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), Rep. Allen West (R-FL), Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL), Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL), Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL).
— Greg Noth