Dec. 20, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER
Download CQ Roll Call's Definitive Guide to the 114th Congress | Sign Up for Roll Call Newsletters | Get the Latest on the Roll Call App

Conservatives Expect to Keep Up Pressure

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (left) and freshman Rep. Steve Southerland are two of the conservatives who banded together in 2011 to pressure Republican leadership on issues such as government spending and debt.

While the presidential election could help unify House Republicans this year, leaders shouldnt expect a free pass from conservatives who will not shy away from challenging leadership over key legislative items.

Following a three-day retreat in Philadelphia sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, conservative leaders and rank-and-file Members alike insisted tensions between themselves and Speaker John Boehners (Ohio) leadership team have helped the party draw a distinction between themselves and Democrats. And, they said, those struggles are likely to continue to a certain degree.

We felt like we tried to play that role last year, but we want to be involved again this year in making the case for the conservative agenda, Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio) said at the retreat.

When asked if he thought Republicans would be able to avoid some of the fighting that marred their efforts last year, Jordan said, I think so. I hope so. He explained that conservatives need to sharply define their differences with Democrats and that as the Republican Conference, and conservatives in the Conference, thats our charge this year … [to show] theres a difference between [the nominee] and President [Barack] Obama.

Throughout 2011, Jordans RSC and conservatives in general were a thorn in Boehners side. Conservatives were particularly hard on leadership on spending matters and forced Republicans into a series of ugly, drawn-out fights over continuing resolutions, the budget, the debt ceiling and a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. Although conservatives in many ways relished the fights viewing them as a chance to create a stark difference
between themselves and Democrats they came at a significant cost.

Internal polling since the summer has shown that the constant threats of a government shutdown and endless brinkmanship soured the public to Republicans.

Conservatives also had a significant effect on the GOPs policy agenda. For instance, they derailed a reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act temporarily last spring, and by keeping the focus on spending and the debt, they left little time for other matters in the public mind.

Conservatives, however, insist their efforts have been good for the party.

I think tension is a good thing. Its how you grow muscle. Stress and pressure and heat thats how diamonds are made, said Rep. Steve Southerland (Fla.), one of the freshman Republicans who often banded with Jordan and other veteran conservatives last year against leadership.

comments powered by Disqus

SIGN IN




OR

SUBSCRIBE

Want Roll Call on your doorstep?