Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

GOP Leaders Coaching Freshmen

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Rep. Michael Grimm said he’s prepared to defend his votes back home in New York because he thinks the GOP has been more fiscally responsible than the Democrats.

“There’s going to be some stuff in there that’s used against people in the next election,” he said. “We’ve got to stop budgeting for the next election and start budgeting for the next generation.”

Republican leaders have carefully coached their class of 87 new Members this year, hosting listening sessions on the budget and offering up educational courses on media and constituent services. The freshmen have been trying to do their part: Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said he has been fielding calls on the budget since January, while Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said he has been hosting virtual town halls for people back home.

And leadership is attempting to keep rank-and-file Members on message.

“The Path to Prosperity streamlines government agencies, brings non-security discretionary spending to below 2008 levels, targets wasteful and duplicative federal programs, and repeals the government takeover of health care,” the recess document provided to Members states. 

Talking points in the recess document, given to Members’ offices last week, seek to draw a distinction between the GOP’s budget plan and President Barack Obama’s. 

“The Path to Prosperity cuts $6.2 trillion in government spending over the next decade compared to the President’s budget,” the Republican talking points state. “We place the nation on a fiscally sustainable path by cutting wasteful Washington spending so employers have the confidence to create jobs.”

Rep. Michael Grimm, who earlier this year criticized tea party advocates for calling on Members not to pass any short-term CRs, voted in favor of the six-month CR last week. The New York Republican told Roll Call that his conservative voters would understand that “we don’t control the Senate and the presidency; if we did, it should be the number we wanted it to be.” 

Besides, Grimm said, Democrats would help him make his case back in his Staten Island-based district. 

“The president has not been forthright, so I’m not going to in any way be concerned when someone is not willing to tell the truth and won’t put up real numbers to say how they are going to control our numbers for the next 10 or 20 years,” he said. 

GOP leaders also sought to hold their Conference together as Members took back-to-back votes on the CR and budget. A total of 59 Republicans voted against the CR, including 28 freshmen, but the party regrouped and voted mostly for Ryan’s budget. While some votes splintered off for the CR and the upcoming debt limit debate promises to be difficult for many vulnerable freshmen to navigate, one GOP strategist explained that all Republicans will nevertheless be unified back home over the next two weeks. 

“The House GOP message is essentially the same even if you’re a rank-and-file rabble-rouser,” the strategist said. “There may be some disagreement over the degree of cuts, but the overarching goal remains the same, especially with the debt limit vote on the horizon.”

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