Seven of the 238 House signers of anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” have informed The Hill that they consider their signatures to have expired.
The news comes as the congressional debt-reduction super committee mulls the possibility or either raising taxes or closing tax loopholes.
The congressmen who indicated that they no long support Norquist’s hard line on tax hikes include Republican Reps. Howard Coble of North Carolina, Peter King of New York, Lee Terry of Nebraska, Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, Mike Simpson of Idaho and Steven LaTourette of Ohio. One of two Democratic signers — Robert Andrews of New Jersey — also said he wants out.
Most of the congressmen told The Hill that they signed the document long ago, and considered their support only valid until the subsequent election.
“I haven’t signed it since 1994,” said LaTourette. “My driver’s license expires. The milk in my refrigerator expires. My gym membership expires.”
Andrews told The Hill, “I understood it to mean that for the next term, if I were elected, I would not vote to raise taxes. … I honored that pledge. I never renewed it.”
“I did not,” he added, “promise him to oppose tax increases until death do us part.”
Simpson echoed Andrews, saying, “I thought it was for the next Congress. … If it sticks with you forever, why do they ask you to re-sign it every two years?”
The report noted that Fortenberry told a town hall event in August, “I don’t care to be associated with it. It’s too constraining,” explaining that he no longer adhered to the pledge.
Norquist issued a stern warning to dissenters.
“They made a promise to their constituents,” Norquist told The Hill. “If they do raise taxes, they were elected on a lie. And we’re not going to pretend they’re not lying.”
Last month, one of the House Republicans not listed by American for Tax Reform as a signer of the pledge, Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf, harshly attacked Norquist on the House floor.
Among other allegations, Wolf said that Norquist “laundered” money for disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, had connections to Islamic terrorists and misused the tax pledge as “leverage to advance many other issues.”
At the time of Wolf’s October remarks, only five other House Republicans were known not to have signed the pledge — Richard Hanna of New York, Todd Platts of Pennsylvania, Rob Wittman of Virginia, Rob Woodall of Georgia and Kevin Yoder of Kansas.