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Jordan: Firebrand Conservative, With Votes

Tom Williams/Roll Call

Rep. John Campbell said the RSC’s role in the Conference has changed because of its size.

“I do think the fact that [the group] is larger makes the RSC somewhat more influential,” the California Republican said. “The objective of the RSC then and, I think, now is to move the leadership to the right.”

Campbell noted that the coalition’s success in pushing the Conference to the right is also because there are RSC members in leadership, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.), a former RSC chairman.

“I don’t think anybody has ever accused Eric Cantor of being squishy on many things,” Campbell said.

The CR is not the only legislative fight the RSC has weighed in on this year; Members thwarted consideration of legislation to extend expiring Trade Adjustment Assistance programs in February. Just last week, Jordan and Rep. Scott Garrett (N.J.) introduced an RSC budget proposal that reaches further than Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) draft, which was also unveiled last week.

While the group’s influence has been on display the past several weeks, it is not a monolithic voting bloc.

“I see them more as an ideas machine, a place where you can share, debate ideas,” Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) said. “We have shared goals. I guess the question is more related to how fast we are going to get to where we want to get.”

Jordan’s biggest challenge is yet to come: House Republicans still must pass a bill to increase the debt limit, an unpleasant task for Congress that in other eras was done with little political debate. Now, however, many conservatives in the House campaigned against raising the debt limit, and it is a volatile political issue. Several RSC members have said that they will oppose any increase in the debt limit, while others might be persuaded if more spending cuts are part of the deal.

Of course, not all Republicans applaud the RSC’s influence as the Conference tries to navigate as the new majority party in Washington. One moderate lawmaker complained that the RSC focused too much on the CR debate and prevented the party from turning to other issues, particularly the upcoming budget debate. 

“I’m hoping that going through this exercise has made them understand, as Boehner says, we’re only one-half of a third of the government,” the Member said. 

Asked about that concern, Jordan simply said: “I would argue the RSC is all about doing what the American people sent us here to do. That is our focus.” 

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