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April 24, 2014

Posts in "GOP Primaries"

April 10, 2014

Breaking Down the 12 Republican ‘No’ Votes on the Ryan Budget (Updated)

broun 052 040414 445x335 Breaking Down the 12 Republican No Votes on the Ryan Budget (Updated)

Broun joined 11 other Republicans voting against the Ryan budget. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated, 3:51 p.m. | This year saw more Republicans than ever vote against Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s spending blueprint, which passed the House Thursday 219-205. Here is a breakdown of the 12 Republicans who voted against the Wisconsin Republican’s budget and why.

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February 27, 2014

Tea Party Pointing Fingers at GOP Leadership, 5 Years In

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Rick Santelli rant heard ’round the world five years ago is credited with starting the tea party, and if you ask Republicans in Congress, the conservative movement has a mixed legacy.

“There’s a reality that we have a president that is further left than any president we’ve ever had in history, and there’s a reality that Harry Reid is a compliant, willing accomplice of the president to accomplish his agenda,” Rep. Michele Bachmann told CQ Roll Call. “So knowing that, I think the tea party is doing as well as it can.”

The Minnesota Republican founded and is still serving as chairwoman of Congress’ Tea Party Caucus, but she is calling it quits this year instead of seeking re-election.

Bachmann identified the 2010 election as “clearly” the “high-water mark” for the movement: “The tea party was responsible for removing the gavel from Nancy Pelosi’s hands and putting it in John Boehner’s hand and making him speaker. That effectively put the brakes on the Obama agenda in a very forthright way.”

But five years in, the political movement is not easy to evaluate. Among the sentiments we heard from Republican lawmakers as we assessed the tea party over the past week were that it’s been successful, that it’s pushed legislative change on spending issues, that it’s still experiencing growing pains, and even that it’s “dangerous.”

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February 24, 2014

Running for Senate … and Away From Boehner

cassidy022114 445x298 Running for Senate ... and Away From Boehner

McCarthy, center, booted Cassidy, right, from the House GOP whip team for breaking with leaders during a vote on a Democratic flood insurance bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Louisiana Rep. Bill Cassidy was relieved of his Republican leadership role earlier this month, but instead of taking it as a dishonor, he celebrated.

Cassidy’s Senate campaign — he’s running to unseat Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu — dispatched a press release the next week vaunting an Associated Press story about House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California booting him from the whip team for breaking with GOP leaders and voting for a Democratic flood insurance bill.

It may seem counterintuitive for someone seeking higher office to boast about being bumped down the totem pole, but not this election year.

Cassidy is just one example of GOP congressmen distancing themselves from their leaders to inoculate themselves against bruising Republican primary attacks or to better position themselves in the general elections pivotal to deciding control of the Senate. Full story

January 29, 2014

Immigration, Debt Ceiling Take Center Stage at GOP Retreat

When President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass an immigration rewrite this year at Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, House Republican leaders responded with applause and ovation.

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio clapped from the dais while Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California joined him from the House floor. Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin jumped to his feet just a few seats away.

But by and large, members of the House Republican Conference in attendance remained seated and stoic, un-enthused at the prospect of undertaking the politically perilous immigration overhaul during an election year, or at all.

As Republicans head to their annual three-day retreat, the challenge for leadership is to ensure that if the team chooses to rise in favor of immigration changes on the House floor again later this year, their conference follows. Full story

January 17, 2014

The One House Appropriator Who Didn’t Vote for the Omnibus

kingston 195 101513 259x335 The One House Appropriator Who Didnt Vote for the Omnibus

Kingston speaks to reporters in October. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The omnibus passed the House this week in an overwhelming fashion, 359-67. But only one of the 67 lawmakers who voted against it is a member of the Appropriations Committee: Jack Kingston, an old-school appropriator who has become increasingly more conservative.

As the Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, Kingston is the third highest-ranking appropriator in the House. He was a big part of crafting the omnibus, particularly provisions heralded by conservatives for cutting money used to implement Obamacare. But apparently that wasn’t enough to appease the Georgia Republican. On Wednesday, he very quietly voted “no” without so much as a news release.

On Tuesday, while Kingston said he was undecided on the $1.1 trillion omnibus — which he said he was “still reading through” — he certainly sounded like a legislator who supported the measure.

“There are a lot of conservative victories in this bill,” he said in an off-the-floor interview. “And so I think people realize there are some things in here that were hard fought.” Full story

GOP to Huddle on Immigration at Retreat

The annual House Republican retreat will feature an open session on an immigration rewrite, during which members will be allowed to freely speak about the contentious issue.

The official schedule has yet to be released, but sources involved in planning the yearly getaway told Roll Call that the weekend event will feature a session dedicated solely to immigration policy changes.

The session will focus on the principles of an immigration rewrite that GOP leaders are working to compile, according to sources familiar with the event’s planning. Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio is expected to release the document to members ahead of or during the retreat, which begins Jan. 29 in Eastern Maryland.

Leadership is hoping to reach some semblance of common ground among the conference, where the views on how to overhaul the nation’s immigration system have been sharply divided and the rhetoric consistently hot.

To that end, the session could be a dangerous proposition. Leadership hosted a similar meeting of the minds in the Capitol last summer and despite a lively discussion, ultimately emerged at a stalemate after failing to round up enough support within the conference to move ahead on legislation.

Full story

December 2, 2013

Could the Sympathy Card Help Trey Radel Keep His Job?

radel 098 112013 445x296 Could the Sympathy Card Help Trey Radel Keep His Job?

Radel, center, leaves court last month after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Weeks after news of his cocaine bust broke, Rep. Trey Radel continues to cling to his seat in Congress in what could ultimately become a testament to the changing mores on Capitol Hill.

The Florida Republican, who checked himself into rehab last month, has faced his fair share of calls to resign — notably from home-state Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, and state GOP Chairman Lenny Curry.

Some of his congressional colleagues from Florida also wonder why he is sticking around.

“I don’t know the depth of his problem or his situation that well. If it were me, I would probably realize there’s a lot more to life than being a member of Congress and getting my life in order is the priority,” said Florida Republican Rep. Dennis A. Ross. “But I don’t think that anybody can put themselves in his shoes.”

“When you have a member of Congress who might go to rehab because they’re an alcoholic, that’s one thing,” said GOP Rep. Tom Rooney, whose district neighbors Radel’s. “I think that’s admirable. Coming from a family that has alcoholism in it, I’ve seen my share of people that I love go through addiction and rehabilitation. But when you do it as a result of a crime, how is that different?”

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., appear content to let the voters decide whether Radel’s punishment will extend beyond probation and a $250 fine. Neither is calling for his resignation or for any significant punishment, such as removal from committee assignments, nor have they issued general statements of condemnation. Full story

July 2, 2013

‘They’re Coming After Me,’ Agriculture Chairman Tells Town Hall

Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas says he’s “under attack” by outside groups for his role in drafting a farm bill abhorred by many conservatives.

The Oklahoma Republican’s comments at a town hall meeting Monday come as GOP leadership back in Washington consider a path forward for the five-year reauthorization of the country’s farm programs. The legislation suffered a surprise defeat on the House floor last month, for which conservative advocacy groups like the Club for Growth and Heritage Action take much of the credit.

“They’re coming after me,” Lucas reportedly told constituents, according to the Tulsa World. “They are all special interest groups that exist to sell subscriptions, to collect seminar fees and to perpetuate their goals.

“You’ve got to understand: They don’t necessarily want a Republican president or a Republican Congress,” Lucas continued in response to a constituent, who at the meeting had cited an analysis of the farm bill provided by Heritage Action. “They made more money when [Democrat] Nancy [Pelosi] was speaker. … It’s a business.” Full story

July 1, 2013

Farm Bill Split Won’t Appease Club for Growth

Splitting up the farm bill into two pieces won’t be enough to appease the Club for Growth, one of the conservative interest groups that claimed credit for the farm bill’s surprise defeat on the House floor last month.

“Splitting up the Farm Bill is a good first step, but just splitting a bad bill into two pieces doesn’t suddenly make either piece better,” said Barney Keller, a spokesman for the Club for Growth, in an email statement to CQ Roll Call on Monday afternoon. “Instead, Republicans should put farm subsidies on a path to elimination and devolve food stamps to the states, where they belong.”

Without substantial changes to each bill, the Club would continue opposing them.

“The Club for Growth would certainly Key Vote against both the farm subsidies and food stamp program if they were considered separately,” Keller continued.

Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action, would not say whether his group would issue key votes on the split titles, should House Republican leaders choose to go that route.

He did, however, suggest that the current product would not pass muster in any iteration.

“Obviously we’d be opposed to anything remotely close to the previous [bill] no matter how they split it up,” Holler said. “Splitting it is a means toward an end, but not an end itself. If you take a step and change some process, make sure you’re changing it to get good policy, not pull wool over the eyes of the people on the outside.”

Leadership is warming to the idea of splitting the bill. But the problem for GOP leaders is if they drop food stamps from the farm bill, they will almost certainly lose Democratic votes and may have trouble picking up enough Republican votes in return without the groups’ blessing.

Though Republican leaders blamed Democrats for not delivering the number of votes they had promised, GOP lawmakers have conceded that the Club for Growth and Heritage Action were instrumental in compelling members of the conference to vote “no.”

At the end of last week, Republican leadership aides said no decisions had been made as to how to move the farm bill forward, with Keller concerned the idea was just a tactic to get a bill through the House.

“We are very skeptical of leadership’s newfound willingness to split the bill, since they’ve used this tactic before to get to conference with the Senate,” Keller said. “We’ll be watching to see how they handle it going forward.”

Another group, Americans for Prosperity, has been actively campaigning to split the bill. On Monday afternoon, the group convened a conference call to discuss the split-bill strategy featuring Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind.

At the time of the farm bill’s House floor consideration, the AFP ran ads in more than a dozen congressional districts urging members to vote against the legislation. Their target audiences included those in the district of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

But AFP President Tim Phillips said his group’s work in bringing down the farm bill was not a reflection on its feelings about Boehner and his leadership team generally.

“This is not an ad hominem assault on House leadership,” Phillips said. “On the farm bill, [leadership has] just been wrong.”

June 27, 2013

Boehner Takes Heat From Club for Growth, Heritage Action

Are the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America out to depose Speaker John A. Boehner?

Leaders of both conservative advocacy groups stop short of saying so, but they are clearly clamoring for a House Republican leader more closely aligned with their principles.

And they are doing everything they can to steer the House GOP membership in their direction.

Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham told CQ Roll Call there is “a disconnect” between the GOP leadership “and the conservative voters they allegedly represent.”

He said his group is “dying to go into battle alongside leadership” but won’t cede ground on issues that matter to it.

“Leadership’s job is to get to 218,” Needham said. “Our job is to make it impossible for them to get to 218 unless they are doing the right thing.”

Chris Chocola, head of the Club for Growth, said if his group does its job, it will get enough of its endorsed candidates into Congress that “they’ll elect one of their own for leadership.”

Chocola said this while also noting that his group doesn’t “do leadership races.” Full story

March 21, 2013

Breaking Down the 10 GOP ‘No’ Votes on the Ryan Budget

Forbes032113 445x299 Breaking Down the 10 GOP No Votes on the Ryan Budget

Forbes was one of 10 Republicans who voted against the Ryan budget on Thursday. He said it didn’t do enough to undo the sequester cuts that are hitting his military-rich district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

We explained earlier this week why most conservatives would vote for the Ryan budget despite their complaints that it largely obtained balance in a relatively brief 10 years by including past tax increases.

That proved true Thursday, when only 10 Republicans voted “no” on the plan and decided against joining their party on one of its most unified votes. Here’s why they voted against House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s blueprint.

Six of the 10 said the Wisconsin Republican’s budget didn’t cut spending fast enough, while four said it cut spending too steeply or in the wrong areas.

Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina — all “no” votes — are in the same ideological camp of libertarian-leaning Republicans urging far bolder spending cuts. Amash and Jones, who were thrown off their plum committee assignments in December, have become almost automatic “no” votes on spending bills that come out of the House. Massie has quickly joined their ranks.

Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas said in a statement that he voted against the budget because he wants “permanent spending controls,” not a “non-binding resolution” that can be “changed with each new Congress.” Full story

March 14, 2013

CPAC Activists Concerned About Candidate Recruiting

CPACbuttons 445x295 CPAC Activists Concerned About Candidate Recruiting

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Think the Republican establishment is alone in obsessing about candidate recruitment and the quality of GOP nominees? Think again.

The Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday held a panel discussion to examine disagreements between grass-roots activists and the party establishment over candidate viability that cost the GOP enough Senate races in 2010 and 2012 to constitute a majority. What was clear from the panelists and the activists that participated in the question-and-answer session was that conservatives are just as concerned as the establishment with the failure of Republican nominees to win general elections.

Charlie Gerow, a Pennsylvanian who serves on the board of the American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC, suggested that conservatives are frustrated with the GOP’s failure in the 1990s and 2000s to deliver on the promises Republicans ran on to cut spending and to rein in government. Gerow indicated that the grass roots have run out of patience, leading many in recent years to ignore candidate viability and competence and to reflexively oppose those backed by the establishment.

However, Gerow argued that recruiting conservatives to run for office who are also capable politicians should be a top priority of grass-roots activists who are interested in seeing a Washington, D.C., that reflects their values.

Full story

CPAC: Paul, Rubio Offer GOP Alternate Visions of Uncertain Future

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Paul said the Republican Party needs to evolve to appeal to the “Faceb0ok generation” of voters. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio on Thursday offered the Republican Party a glimpse of alternate futures in dueling speeches that revved up two distinct groups of conservative activists.

Speaking back to back to political activists attending the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Florida’s Rubio offered a broad vision more grounded in the three-legged coalition of social, national security and fiscal conservatives that has defined GOP governing since Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980.

Kentucky’s Paul focused his remarks on constitutional liberty and social libertarianism, specifically calling on the Republican Party to change and evolve from the “stale, moss-covered” party he said it has become into a movement that appeals to the younger “Facebook generation” of voters that he claims questions the viability of Social Security and wants the government to leave them alone.

“I think they were both good speeches,” said Wayne Morgan, a Washington, D.C., activist and consultant sporting a Ken Cuccinelli for Virginia governor sticker. “Rubio’s speech seemed to resound, I would say, with the whole crowd. Paul’s message of freedom, rights, small-government definitely hits most of this crowd.”

Full story

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