Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio has said he intends to hang on to the reins, and now he is cracking the whip.
Boehner is exerting pressure on top committee chairman to raise more money for the National Republican Congressional Committee as the party tries to win a dozen or more seats in November's elections.
Boehner has told members affiliated with the NRCC to urge committee and subcommittee chairman to chip in, and he is leading by example. Last week, at a closed-door House Republican meeting at NRCC headquarters, Boehner announced a donation of $1.5 million to the House GOP's campaign wing with a matching donation from Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. They were joined by Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who each handed over checks of $1 million to the NRCC. "I told my colleagues two weeks ago I was all in. And when I’m all in, I’m all in," Boehner told reporters after the meeting.
Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a former chairman of the NRCC, said many members are not contributing enough money, particularly as the NRCC finds itself down millions of dollars compared with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Boehner, Cole said, has tasked him and others with compelling underperforming chairmen to empty their pockets.
"People that have gavels and get to advance their personal or philosophical agenda have to help maintain the majority," Cole said. "We’ve got a lot of members that don’t at all. Others are honestly pretty pathetic if you look at the amounts they have in their accounts and the amount they help over to the NRCC."
Chairmen and members on choice committees have an individualized fundraising bar they are supposed to meet. But some members not hitting their marks is a problem made more dire by the fact that Republicans are losing one of their most prolific fundraisers in Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who lost a shocking primary election last month.
"Chipping away at the fundraising advantage President Obama has built for Democrats is key to helping win a larger Republican House majority in November," Boehner spokesman Cory Fritz told CQ Roll Call.
CQ Roll Call reported last week that 90 percent of the members of the Democratic caucus have paid their dues.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Ca., an NRCC regional chairman, said the problem for Republicans is wider than just its chairmen.
He said some rank-and-file members do not contribute at all. That is why he, Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, and others are trying to push a system under which those who do not pay up, do not get to sit on A committees, such as Ways and Means and Appropriations.
"It’s about all the other members who are not stepping up," Nunes said. "The danger is not about us losing our majority. The sad part will be that we will leave good candidates on the field in November that will go unfunded because of people out here who say they want to stop Obama’s agenda, but in reality they’re only looking out for themselves. That’s got to end."
A few candidates attended the private meeting last Tuesday, including Rick Allen, a construction company owner who is trying to unseat Democratic Rep. John Barrow in a tight race in Georgia. Allen said the show of fundraising prowess was impressive.
"I've never been in a room and raised that much money at once, so it was pretty cool," he said, exiting the NRCC building.