March 6, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Freshmen Are Central in GOP Budget Strategy

File Photo
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has been the face of the GOP’s spending and debt efforts, but several freshmen are working closely with the leadership team to craft policies.

House GOP leaders have given their freshman class a major role in setting the Conferences fiscal policies, putting Congress newest Members at the center of the spending and debt fights that will consume Washington for months.

While Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) has been the public face of the GOPs spending and debt efforts and set the overall message, behind the scenes Speaker John Boehners (Ohio) leadership team has been working closely with several freshmen to craft spending, budget and debt reduction policies.

With 89 members and representing about a third of the GOP Conference, this years freshman class is also united philosophically around reducing government spending and debt and has used that to leverage a powerful role in policy development.

I am very impressed with how sophisticated this freshman class is, said Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who along with Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (Ill.) and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) has been holding listening sessions with freshmen on the budget, the debt and a continuing resolution to keep the government funded.

Those sessions were intended to provide a basic education to new lawmakers on the intricacies of how the House sets spending and budget levels, but they have quickly become a forum for freshmen to influence the partys strategy and policy.

Rep. Michael Grimm (N.Y.) said he has been pleasantly surprised to see just how open the leadership is to allowing the freshmen to take the lead on some things. I expected, to a certain extent, to have a battle on my hands.

Grimm said that when he arrived in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, he anticipated leadership would say, Sit down and look pretty while we tell you how things work here. And thats not how its been at all.

Rep. Sean Duffy (Wis.) said the meetings have helped Members better understand the financial problems facing the nation but have also been a venue for expressing their concerns.

Ryan is able to lay out to the freshman class what happened with the debt limit, Duffy said, while the freshman class gets to dial in and say ... We cant vote for a debt limit increase that doesnt include significant spending reductions and other reforms.

The meetings have also provided leadership a better understanding of what the freshman Members will and will not support.

McCarthy said he takes insights from the freshmen back to the Republican leadership. Understanding where the freshmen are is critical for leadership, McCarthy said, since were in a better position to know where our Conference is.

The relationship has already had a direct impact on specific GOP policies, Duffy and others said.

comments powered by Disqus




Want Roll Call on your doorstep?