Jeffrey Haffley, (Born: November 1, 1958) played by Steven Culp, is a fictional Republican member of the United States House of Representatives representing the state of Washington. He was Speaker of the House from 2003 to 2006. He is a recurring character on the American television show The West Wing. Haffley appears to have been modeled on former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich, and his adversarial relationship with Democratic President Josiah Bartlet mirrors the dynamic between Gingrich and President Bill Clinton.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Biography Edit

Early life and political debut Edit

Jeff Haffley was born and raised in Spokane, Washington. Jeff grew up in Spokane's South Hill Comstock High Drive neighborhood, attending Jefferson Elementary, Lewis and Clark High School, and Gonzaga Law School. In 1982, Haffley was elected to the Washington State House and served four terms (1983-1991).

Election to Congress Edit

In 1994, Haffley was elected to Congress, defeating former Speaker of the House Tom Foley. In 1997, Haffley became Chief Deputy Majority Whip under Bob Mitchell. Haffley, together with Representatives John Connelly and Bob Mitchell, were dubbed the "Unholy Trinity" by Bartlet aide Joshua Lyman, and Lyman predicted (or perhaps hoped) that Mitchell, rather then Haffley, would be appointed to replace Glen Allen Walken as Speaker. According to Lyman, even Republicans considered Haffley to be a "fascist," and Haffley harbors a deep dislike of Josh Lyman.

Speaker of the House Edit

Nomination of the Vice President Edit

The Republican leadership did in fact choose Haffley to be the next Speaker. Haffley wasted no time in confronting the Bartlet Administration, with the first major battleground being the President's nominee to succeed John Hoynes as Vice President of the United States. Bartlet's personal choice was his Secretary of State, Lewis Berryhill. Berryhill, a tremendously popular personality, would have been all but guaranteed the 2006 Democratic nomination for President, and thus Haffley and the Republicans conspired to thwart his candidacy. Haffley presented Bartlet with several candidates who could be confirmed easily, but who were considered unlikely choices to succeed Bartlet. Wanting to avoid a major floor fight (and in light of the fact that even the Democratic leadership considered Berryhill to be nearly dictatorial), Bartlet eventually selected Representative Robert Russell (D-CO).

2004 budget crisis Edit

Victorious, Haffley next confronted the President over the 2004 federal budget. As the country entered a recession following the crisis caused by Zoey Bartlet's kidnapping, President Bartlet announced plans for a stimulus package to restore the economy but Haffley forced him to give up his plans and accept a Republican-approved stimulus for the next budget. In negotiations led by Angela Blake, the administration is forced to give up on several of Bartlet's campaign promises in exchange for a fair deal, namely for the Speaker to meet them halfway on bridging a $100 billion of the deficit. However, Haffley would not walk away without larger spending cuts (Bartlet desired the removal of agriculture subsidies while Haffley supported a downgrading of entitlement programs, such as Social Security) and a major tax break for capital gains. Eventually, the talks broke down and a third Continuing Resolution was considered. Both sides agreed to a two-month CR of the current budget with a 1% cut on everything but homeland security and defense. At the last minute, Haffley rejected the previous deal and demanded a 3% cut.

Bartlet drew a line in the sand on the last minute change of plan, leading to a near-total shutdown of the United States government. At first, Haffley and the Republicans were winning the war for public opinion, with Time magazine giving him the cover with the caption "The New Boss?" However, Haffley made a key public relations error by refusing to meet with Bartlet on Capitol Hill. Bartlet walked the distance to the Capitol building, then patiently waited outside Haffley's office for an appointment. After waiting several minutes for Haffley's bewildered staff to decide what to do, Bartlet picked up his entourage and left, portraying Haffley in the press as recalcitrant and unwilling to reach a compromise, shifting the court of public opinion to Bartlet's favor. The inaction was a major bungle on Haffley's part, and he was forced to negotiate a budget on Bartlet's terms instead of his last minute demands, who rejected the idea of a new CR. Bartlet accepted to drop his tuition tax deductible in exchange for them to renounce their capital gains tax cut, and accept to meet the administration halfway on the deficit reduction plan.

End of term Edit

Following the budget confrontation, Haffley's power diminished somewhat, but he vocally opposed President Bartlet's eventually successful Israeli-Palestinian peace summit as a betrayal of Israel.

Although he did not personally seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2006, he did his best to embarrass the Democrats during the primary season, several times calling a vote on stem cell research while many Democratic congressmen were out of town and then calling the vote off when they returned. However, this backfired on the Republicans, when Representative Matthew Santos (D-TX) staged a successful maneuver to defeat the bill, giving additional publicity to the eventual Democratic nominee.

In the same election that put Santos in the White House, the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives while Republicans kept the Senate. Republican official and Vinick staffer Jane Bruan described the Speaker as unemployed, most likely referring to his loss of Speaker of the House to the new Democratic majority, or possibly indicating that he was defeated in his congressional district election.

Haffley married his wife Jenny in 1983 and they have two children, Jacob and Ruth.

United States Congressional Delegation from Washington
Grissom (D) | Wiley (D)
Haffley (R) | Quigley

Preceded by:
Glen Allen Walken
Speaker of the House
Jeff Haffley
Succeeded by:
Mark B. Sellner
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