Why Bill Cassidy Broke With Senate Republicans and Backed Trump’s Trial


“We’re looking for solutions,” said Mr. Young, who until recently was the chairman of the Senate Republican campaign arm and is eager to turn back to policy.

Mr. Schatz, who is friendly with some of these senators, put a finer point on their motivation: “If I’m going to suffer through the Trump era, then I may as well enact some laws.”

In Louisiana, though, the thoroughly Trumpified Republican Party expects only continued fealty to the former president.

Mr. Cassidy confronted immediate criticism for his vote and comments on Tuesday.

“I received many calls this afternoon from Republicans in Louisiana who think that @SenBillCassidy did a ‘terrible job’ today,” Blake Miguez, the State House Republican leader, wrote on Twitter, repurposing Mr. Cassidy’s critique of Mr. Trump’s lawyers. “I understand their frustrations and join them in their disappointment.”

Even a fellow member of the Louisiana congressional delegation, Representative Mike Johnson, weighed in. “A lot of people from back home are calling me about it right now,” noted Mr. Johnson, a Republican, who said he was “surprised” by Mr. Cassidy’s move.

Perhaps he should not have been.

As Stephanie Grace, the longtime political columnist for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, wrote in a December piece anticipating Mr. Cassidy’s shift, he “has long been part of bipartisan efforts to solve problems, even if his solutions probably go too far for some Republicans and stop way short of what many Democrats want.”

Mr. Cassidy, a former Democrat like Mr. Kennedy and many Southern Republicans their age, has long been less than dogmatic on health care, a viewpoint he formed working in his state’s charity hospitals. This has always been more than a little ironic to Louisiana political insiders, given that in 2014 he unseated Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, thanks to conservative attacks on former President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act. (On Wednesday, Ms. Landrieu said of Mr. Cassidy, “Many people in Louisiana are proud of him, including me.”)