Republicans tentatively backing away from Grover Norquist

The coalition against raising taxes is perhaps not as strong as it used to be

By Jillian Rayfield
November 20, 2012 6:58PM (UTC)
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Grover Norquist (Wikipedia)

In the ongoing negotiations over the "fiscal cliff," a number of prominent Republicans have indicated that they agree with the Democrats that the government needs to raise revenues. This time around, that could mean that Grover Norquist does not have the necessary votes to block a tax increase.

From the New York Times:


By Mr. Norquist’s count, 219 House members — enough for a majority — and 39 senators have committed to the pledge. But some of those members who signed on, many of them years ago, have started to back away, apparently leaving him several votes shy of the majority he would need to block any tax increase.

“A pledge is good at the time you sign it,” said Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican whose name still appears as a pledge signer on the Web site of Mr. Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform. “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.”

Other Republicans have made similar comments, like Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia: “I’m frankly not concerned about the Norquist pledge." Or Sen. John McCain: “Fewer and fewer people are signing this, quote, pledge.” Or Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who has called it a “tortured vision of tax purity.”

Norquist, however, seems unfazed: “It’s been 22 years since a Republican voted for a tax increase in this town,” he said, the Times reports. “This is not my first rodeo.”

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Federal Deficit Fiscal Cliff Grover Norquist Republicans Taxes