House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (left), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (right) and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan have led a new generation of House conservatives, but their boldness has led to political problems.
McCarthy, as his party’s Whip in the House, has overseen a number of embarrassing defeats on the House floor, including just last week on an unremarkable stopgap spending bill. GOP leaders say this is part of instituting an “open” House. But the lack of control over the conference’s conservative flank has at times undercut Republicans in negotiations with Democrats.
Meanwhile, turns in the battle over spending have pushed Ryan from the limelight. At the end of the summer debt ceiling standoff, Republicans settled on a deal to raise the debt limit and require a bipartisan, bicameral committee to find at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years. The deal also adopted discretionary spending levels that are about $24 billion more than those laid out in Ryan’s budget.
Ryan wanted nothing to do with the special panel, telling Boehner not to appoint him to it.
“Twelve people in Congress are not going to cut a backroom deal that is going to fix all of the country’s fiscal problems, nor should they try,” Ryan said Monday at the Facebook panel. Instead, he will spend this fall drafting reforms to the budget system itself.
A key aim of Cantor, McCarthy and Ryan was to interact with the public, especially using online tools, in a way that allowed voters who felt they had no political voice to participate in the legislative process.
“One of the tenets of our practices was ... transparency and engaging — listening to people,” Cantor said Monday at Facebook’s headquarters.
The Majority Leader has showcased YouCut, his crowdsourced spending cuts program that allows Americans to vote online for which government programs Congress should cut.
“It’s been a tremendously successful program. Every week there is introduction of a new measure under the YouCut program as a result of the participation,” Cantor said.
That was the plan, anyway. After Cantor handed off the program to three hand-picked freshman lawmakers in May, it has stalled.
Only nine rounds of YouCut voting have commenced, less than the promised rate of once per legislative week, resulting in only a single piece of legislation being introduced. That bill awaits consideration by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.