The first sign that Republican leaders could not control their new majority came on a vote to help Americans who lose their jobs to foreign workers. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor considered the measure routine and in February 2011 put it on a list of bills that were expected to pass without objection.

Enter the Club for Growth.

Flush with power after helping to elect 13 House members and defeat two veterans in the Senate, the conservative campaign-finance machine blasted out an email declaring its opposition to extending the 40-year-old retraining program, which it called "inappropriate for a country devoted to free markets and a limited government."