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Posts in "Heritage Action"
August 20, 2014
PHILADELPHIA — House Republicans won’t shut down the government in September, Heritage Action is “constructive at the end of the day” and a person can write a book without necessarily running for president.
Those were some of the points Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., hit home during an exclusive interview with CQ Roll Call Wednesday afternoon from the ornate Union League Building in downtown Philadelphia.
The House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 vice presidential nominee was in the city to kick-off a 10-day national tour promoting his new book, which hit the stands Tuesday.
“The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea” is part-memoir, part-sweeping policy proposal, and Ryan will be spending some of the waning days of August recess touting it in Wisconsin, Chicago, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and California.
August 4, 2014
Marlin Stutzman knows how to plant seeds.
When the Indiana Republican mounted his campaign for majority whip, it was such a long shot he didn’t expect to win — at least not this time.
No one else really expected Stutzman to prevail in the three-way leadership contest, either. But he’s looking years down the road, and is glad he took the gamble.
“Some people are afraid to lose. … Sometimes you have to lose in order to build something for the future,” Stutzman told CQ Roll Call during an hourlong interview in his 7th floor Longworth office.
It’s a lesson he knows well, as a member who entered the House in November 2010 after losing the Indiana Republican Senate primary to Dan Coats in May of that year.
Stutzman, who calls himself “an overachieving farmer,” didn’t see much downside to running and losing. This race was more about getting his name out there to let his colleagues know he’s interested in leadership.
His goal was to build relationships within the GOP conference. Stutzman said a lesson he learned from his scramble into leadership elections was that the conference is not as divided as many think, that the differences are more over strategy than policy.
So what does Stutzman want? The fourth-generation soybean, green bean and seed corn farmer doesn’t exactly seem to know.
July 9, 2014
House GOP leadership is prepared to push ahead on legislation to save the Highway Trust Fund from looming insolvency, with a vote expected on the chamber floor next week.
It all depends, however, on the reception to the new proposal, already being met with some skepticism from key lawmakers and influential outside groups. The House will also have to reconcile its work with that of the Senate, which is taking a different track.
And the clock is ticking quickly down to the August recess. Full story
June 23, 2014
Updated 3:58 p.m. | Two high-profile GOP leadership races have just ended, but a new one’s just getting started.
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was elected on June 19 to ascend to the majority whip’s office on Aug. 1, which means the Republican Study Committee will have an opening for a new chairman — and ambitious candidates hoping to emerge as the House’s next conservative leader are ready to start campaigning. Full story
May 20, 2014
Heritage Action strongly recommended “no” votes on a major reauthorization of water infrastructure projects around the country; on Tuesday, few members heeded the advice.
The bipartisan, bicameral conference report for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, or WRRDA, passed on the House floor in an overwhelming 412-4 vote.
The holdouts — GOP Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Matt Salmon of Arizona — all have high scorecards with Heritage Action and represent the most conservative factions of the House Republican Conference.
May 19, 2014
Heritage Action stopped short of urging lawmakers on Saturday morning to reject the conference report for a key water resources and infrastructure bill, but finished the job on Monday by saying it would “key vote” the legislation.
The advocacy group’s warning that lawmakers will be graded based on their vote may not be enough to sink the legislation on the House floor under a simple majority vote, but it could jeopardize passage of the bill in its current spot on the suspension calendar, where it will need an affirmative two-thirds majority to pass.
“This massive piece of legislation crosses five out of six red lines,” Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler said in a statement Monday on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. Holler said the bill’s flaws include excessive spending, a failure to privatize a sufficient number of government-funded projects and a lack of provisions to “reduce bureaucracy.”
The Republican leadership of the House has signaled its intent to block consideration of any immigration-related amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act this week, but Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., hasn’t given up — yet.
Denham, who caused a stir last month by pledging to force a House vote on an amendment to the NDAA that would create a legal status pathway to undocumented immigrants who served the military — the so-called ENLIST Act — has filed that amendment with the House Rules Committee, which was set to meet Monday evening to determine whether to allow that amendment, and countless others, to be subject for debate. Full story
May 15, 2014
Heritage Action for America isn’t the only conservative advocacy group prepared to go to the mattresses over possible efforts in the House next week to tack an immigration-related provision onto the defense authorization bill.
Shortly after Heritage announced it would score lawmakers’ votes on the National Defense Authorization Act if it includes language to allow certain illegal immigrants to gain citizenship through military service, the Madison Project also weighed in.
The group, which backs conservative candidates for office and fights for conservative causes on Capitol Hill, warned that Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., plans to offer the legislation, known as the ENLIST Act, as an amendment to the NDAA that’s due on the floor in the coming days.
January 29, 2014
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 24, 2014
In between quips about his tan complexion and common mispronunciations of his name, Speaker John A. Boehner acknowledged, in a Thursday evening interview with comedian Jay Leno, that Republicans were to blame for the government shutdown.
“It was a very predictable disaster, and the sooner we got it over with, the better,” the Ohio Republican said during his televised appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
“I told my colleagues in July I didn’t think shutting down the government over Obamacare would work because the President said, ‘I’m not going to negotiate,’” Boehner continued. “And so I told them in August ‘Probably not a good idea.’ Told them in early September. But when you have my job, there’s something you have to learn … When I looked up, I saw my colleagues going this way. And you learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk … So I said, ‘You want to fight this fight? I’ll go fight the fight with you.’” Full story
December 30, 2013
This year, doing the business of the People’s House was, at best, a struggle. It’s well-known that 2013 was, legislatively, the least productive session in congressional history. Leaders strained to get to 218 — a majority in the 435-seat House (in case you had no idea where the blog name came from). And there were some pretty notable news stories as a result of all this congressional dysfunction.
But as painful as the year was for members, covering the House was a pleasure, one which we here at 218 only had the honor of doing for about half the year.
In that short time, 218 — or “Goppers,” as we were formerly known, which rhymes with “Whoppers,” for all you still wondering about that — had more than a few favorite stories.
Among the labors of love, there was a piece about the 10 Republicans who could one day be speaker, a story on an internal August playbook that went out to House Republicans telling them to profess how they were fighting Washington, and a piece (in response to his “calves the size of cantaloupes” comment) asking the question: How do you solve a problem like Steve King? Full story
December 16, 2013
It was, by most accounts, a bad week for outside conservative groups.
Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, blasted them last week for coming out against the budget deal in a kind of declaration of independence after a difficult year of bitter internecine sparring. And despite groups such as Heritage Action for America and the Club for Growth bashing the deal and key voting against it, House Republicans overwhelmingly stuck with their speaker.
In the end, 169 Republicans (73 percent) voted for the budget and against their scorecards.
What you didn’t see, however, was Heritage Action or Club for Growth key vote against the rule for the budget deal. Amid all the noise about the budget and the relationship between these groups and leadership, their silence on the rule allowed the deal to go through without drama. A single Republican voted against the rule — and only 16 more of the 62 Republicans who voted against the budget would have been enough to bring it down.
Barney Keller, the communications director for the Club for Growth, told CQ Roll Call that had the groups key voted the rule, it “probably” would have gone down.
So why didn’t Heritage Action and the Club for Growth come out against the procedural vote?
Keller said the group is more interested in providing a “snapshot” of member positions than influencing floor action.
“I think our scorecard serves as a good tool for holding members accountable for what they say,” Keller said. “It’s not more complicated than that.”
“We let the chips fall as they may,” he added.
But would the rule have “probably” gone down if the outside groups pushed against it?
“The claim that they could have taken down the rule is just bullshit,” a senior GOP aide told CQ Roll Call on Monday.
“People are already questioning their legitimacy, and key voting the rule would have been a test of their relevancy that they would have failed,” the aide said.
That seems to be the take among many senior Republicans: The risk of an embarrassing defeat was too great.
“A year ago, our members were more scared of Club for Growth and Heritage Action. After the shutdown, these groups have kind of been marginalized,” the aide continued. “Members are less apt to listen to them.”
Another senior GOP aide pointed out that nearly three quarters of the conference, including two thirds of the Republican Study Committee, were not concerned with the key votes, proving “that their influence continues to diminish and their scorecards are largely irrelevant,” the aide said.
Boehner assailed the groups last week, saying, “Frankly, I think they are misleading their followers,” and that they have “lost all credibility.”
But the groups are still players — inside and outside of Washington.
That’s why House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan had to navigate an almost impossible line of rhetoric last week, defending the deal while praising the groups who were bashing it.
“I think these groups are valuable,” the Wisconsin Republican said on Fox News last week. “The way I look at it is this: They are part of our conservative family, and I’d prefer we keep these conversations within our family.”
Ryan said Boehner’s blowup was a response to some of the groups’ pre-emptive criticism.
“John was frustrated because they came out against our agreement before we even reached an agreement. I was frustrated about that as well, but I see the tea party as indispensable, valuable in helping keep the taxpayer in the game, keep Washington accountable,” Ryan said.
But what seemed to really anger Boehner was that the groups were going after Ryan.
“Boehner takes a lot of criticism, and it mostly rolls off this back,” a senior GOP aide told CQ Roll Call on Monday. “But he is close to Ryan and seemed very offended when these ‘conservative’ outside fundraising groups started attacking the most thoughtful conservative leader in the House.”
Another senior GOP aide summed it up this way: “Boehner is very protective of Ryan.”
Dan Holler, the communications director for Heritage Action, said it was “unfortunate” and “unclear” why Boehner made the comments last week. Much of the substance of the deal, Holler said, was lost because people were focusing on the Ohio Republican’s comments.
“Instead of acknowledging what it was, the speaker made it a barometer of conservatism,” Holler said.
Holler said this budget deal was “typical of how Washington used to work. Where people would get together, cut out their bases and pass deals that incrementally increase the size of government.”
As for why Heritage Action didn’t key vote the rule, Holler said such a move is incredibly rare, if not unprecedented. (The Club for Growth could only think of three times it has ever key voted a rule.)
But more than that, Holler indicated that Heritage Action recognized this was a bipartisan deal, where Democrats would come to the rescue if the deal — or the rule — were actually in trouble.
“The idea that Democrats were going to allow this deal to fall apart, I don’t think is backed up by any of the evidence,” Holler said.
“They weren’t going to allow a $63 billion spending increase to get jettisoned,” he said.
And it’s quite possible that if they had succeeded in bringing down the rule, it would only have sent Republican leaders into the waiting arms of Democrats looking to extract more concessions.
December 13, 2013
House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., is choosing his words carefully when discussing the tenuous relationship between GOP lawmakers and conservative outside groups.
In sneak-peek excerpts from an interview to be aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this Sunday, Ryan — who sat for questions with host David Gregory alongside Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. — conceded that he was “frustrated” with outside advocacy groups, such as Heritage Action for America and Americans for Prosperity, which “came out in opposition to our budget agreement before we reached a budget agreement.”
But Ryan was quick with a caveat, adding, “I think these taxpayer groups are indispensable to keeping taxpayer interest accounted for, keeping people accountable. Full story
Dozens of prominent conservatives off Capitol Hill are rushing to the defense of Paul Teller, the longtime executive director of the Republican Study Committee who was fired on Wednesday.
Republicans inside the halls of Congress, however, are split.
Some members have expressed sympathy for the man they considered a friend and ally.
“I’ll tell you, my first reaction to hearing the news was, ‘How can I hire him?’” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan.
Others said he had a history of undermining committee confidentiality agreements, leaking conversations to outside groups and actively working against the RSC when it was pushing a strategy with which he disagreed. Full story
December 11, 2013
In August, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint was traveling through GOP-friendly districts, urging Congress to defund Obamacare. In April, DeMint’s counterpart at a rival conservative think tank was visiting the Dalai Lama.
“I went to set up the collaboration in his monastery in Dharamsala, India,” Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, said in a recent interview with CQ Roll Call. “I meditated for half a day in his monastery and met with him in the afternoon.”
In his downtown Washington, D.C., office, wearing a black blazer with a checkered pocket square, slim-fit jeans and argyle socks, Brooks paused and smiled, as if relishing the audacity of it all: a conservative figurehead traversing a continent to convince the Buddhist spiritual leader to participate in an upcoming AEI campaign about “human flourishing and happiness.”
“This is the new right,” he said. “This is the new right.”
In his former life, Brooks was an academic, writing books and teaching courses on the virtues of the free-enterprise system, for which he calls himself a “warrior”; before that, he was a professional French horn player with a renowned orchestra in Barcelona.
Since Jan. 1, 2009, Brooks has helmed the AEI, a prestigious powerhouse of conservative intellectualism, where he wants to lead a revolution to transform the Republican Party of the 21st century. Full story