Retreat organizers wanted to host an address by DeMint, the former South Carolina senator, but decided not to out of an abundance of caution. Criminal law forbids former senators from influencing members for two years after leaving Congress.
Although many leaders will not be in Baltimore, the group will be talking about how it can unify after a combative two years, culminating in an unsuccessful coup attempt against Boehner.
“I think they are willing to give leadership a chance with this one, and you saw it a week or two ago with the debt ceiling vote,” which passed easily, said a senior GOP aide to an RSC member. “We’re willing to give them a chance, but don’t blow it.”
The retreat also represents a policy-focused planning session and an opportunity for RSC Chairman Steve Scalise of Louisiana to mend relationships after the contentious race to become the group’s leader in the 113th Congress, during which he upset the RSC founders’ choice, Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia.
“After the election there’s some hard feelings,” a second senior Republican congressional aide said. “He really just wants to build fellowship among members and unify the RSC.”
Some of the more recognizable names that will address members include entrepreneur and publisher Steve Forbes, former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, CNBC television host Larry Kudlow and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
“They’re all substantive people,” Franc said. “We want to give [members] the intellectual food to sustain them for the next year. ... We haven’t really gone after some of the matinee big names in a sense.”
The focus will be on the pending issues Congress has to deal with, and the aide said Scalise wants the RSC to coalesce behind a plan that would allow the more than $1 trillion in sequestration cuts to go into effect unless they can be replaced with cuts elsewhere.
A session dealing with the health care overhaul will focus less on repealing the law, a goal the aide said is unrealistic at this point, but on defunding it through the appropriations process.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.