Chaffetz will take over Oversight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
There were hardly any surprises among the Republican Steering Committee’s picks for chairmen in the 114th Congress, but the one major question decided on Tuesday was who would lead the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. And the answer is Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
The GOP Steering Committee announced their picks Tuesday night as Republicans gear up for a Congress in which they’ll hold their largest majority since Herbert Hoover was president.
There were few real decisions for the committee to make, but the biggest was who — Chaffetz, Michael R. Turner of Ohio, Jim Jordan of Ohio or John L. Mica of Florida — would pick up the gavel at the Oversight with Darrell Issa, R-Calif., stepping down.
Chaffetz emerged earlier this fall as the slight favorite in the gavel fight after strong performances on oversight issues at the Secret Service. His argument for being the next chairman of the committee centered on his undivided attention on the committee. Full story
Flores edged two more conservative rivals for the RSC chairmanship. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
In a hotly contested battle over the direction of the Republican Study Committee, Texas Republican Bill Flores beat out his more conservative rivals, South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney and Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, to become the new RSC chairman.
While Mulvaney ran on reasserting a conservative direction at the RSC and Gohmert ran on asserting an entirely new, dramatically more conservative vision, Flores ran as someone who could work with leadership.
“I campaigned on being a collaborative leader,” Flores told reporters after he won.
“By trying to advance the perfect conservative solution, nobody wins,” he said. Full story
Flores says if he wins the Republican Study Committee chairmanship, he’ll work with everyone. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
As the Republican Study Committee decides on its next chairman, Tuesday’s contest between Bill Flores of Texas, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Louie Gohmert of Texas will likely set the tone for House conservatives for years to come as RSC membership swells to record numbers.
The RSC’s placeholder chairman, Rob Woodall of Georgia, has roughly 170 members in the groups ranks, and sources believe membership in the 114th Congress could exceed 180 — almost three-quarters of the entire GOP conference.
Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was chosen at the start of this Congress to lead the RSC over Tom Graves of Georgia, used the post as a springboard to becoming majority whip. His tenure perhaps set a more leadership-friendly tone.
There’s a similar dynamic at play as members prepare to vote behind the closed doors of the Cannon Caucus Room, as sources see it as a Flores-Mulvaney race. Both men say their whip counts suggest they will win, but declined to give numbers.
Mulvaney is presenting himself as the more conservative choice, while Flores has tried to sell himself as the option best suited to working with the rest of the conference.
Eshoo and Pallone are locked in a race for the Energy and Commerce ranking member slot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated 11:50 a.m. | It started as a race to choose the next ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee; it could ultimately end as a referendum on the status quo.
When House Democrats finally settle the score this week, their choice between Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey and Anna G. Eshoo of California could send a strong message about how deeply members still hew to the seniority system.
And in a caucus growing increasingly antsy over the stasis at the leadership table, this ranking member election could be the closest thing to an up-or-down vote on Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that members get for the next two years.
Pelosi, who has repeatedly endorsed her close friend Eshoo, is expected to run unopposed for a sixth full term as the House’s top Democrat.
Lawmakers will not say so publicly, but many of them think that if Eshoo loses, it will be because she became a casualty of greater frustrations within the caucus.
The fight sparked by California Democrat Henry A. Waxman’s retirement announcement in January became so dramatic because there was never a clear front-runner or an easy choice. Stakeholders agree Pallone and Eshoo’s policy positions are nearly identical, and their legislative records are unblemished.
So members were forced to consider other factors: Who called them first to ask for their vote? Who gave them money in a tough re-election bid? Who has always been their friend? Full story
Indiana’s Messer, center, will take over the Republican Policy Committee. (Allison Shelley/Getty Images File Photo)
Updated 4:18 p.m. | In the one competitive race for a leadership spot, House Republicans elected Luke Messer to serve as GOP Policy Committee chairman.
The Indiana lawmaker beat out Republicans Tom Reed of New York and Rob Woodall of Georgia.
The Policy Committee chairman — the only competitive leadership race as Rep. James Lankford leaves the spot to become Oklahoma’s next senator — is tasked with equipping members with research and aiding committees as they draft legislation. The chairman also gets a spot at the leadership table and a vote on the Steering Committee. Full story
Scalise wins a full term as GOP whip in the 114th. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise won a full term Thursday as the GOP’s No. 3-ranked leader.
The Louisiana Republican, who moved into the post after former Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., became majority leader earlier this year, said in a statement he looks forward to “working with one of the largest and most dynamic Republican majorities in history to pass legislation that advances the conservative principles that unite us to solve our nation’s problems … .” Full story
Boehner has a lot to smile about these days. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
House Republican leaders who have faced opposition from the most conservative wing of their own caucus in recent years may have stumbled across the best way to quash an intraparty revolt: Win.
Last week’s Election Day gains have quieted the talk of a mutiny against John A. Boehner that has obsessed some conservatives since a failed attempt to dethrone the speaker at the start of the 113th Congress. Even tea party members who have long spouted anti-Boehner bombast and candidates who hinted on the trail they would look elsewhere for leadership are sounding pleased with the status quo.
“I like what I’m seeing,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said Wednesday of Boehner. Full story
Pelosi and her leadership team face questions about their handling of the midterms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated 3:34 p.m. | House Democrats came back to work Wednesday still reeling from last week’s bruising election results — and looking for answers about what went wrong.
For many lawmakers, it wasn’t enough to blame the loss of at least a dozen House seats on an unpopular president, gerrymandered districts and a host of other factors beyond the party’s control. Going forward, they say they want their leadership to do some soul-searching, and so far it hasn’t happened.
A few members challenged Pelosi for her suggestion that voter suppression accounted for low Democratic turnout, a source on the call said.
A handful of Democratic aides said there was general frustration that the DCCC, at the eleventh hour, had to shift precious dollars around to help incumbents who should have been safe — or should have been warned by the DCCC much earlier to get back to their districts and protect their seats.
Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., was telling his local newspaper the party’s messaging needed to change. Democrats wouldn’t win elections, he said, talking about Pelosi’s favored “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds” agenda.
“Where the hell were the Democrats? What were we talking about?” he asked. “We’re losing white men. Why are we not talking about that? Why are we always concerned with what’s the politically correct thing to say?”
“Where’s the humility?” a senior Democratic aide lamented. “Don’t we want to self-assess here?”
Over the weekend, it looked like party leaders were starting to come around to the idea about how the elections went for Democrats on a national leavel. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida announced that a special panel of “key party stakeholders and experts” would perform a “top-to-bottom assessment” of what went wrong this cycle and how to do better next time.
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., tweeted that Wasserman Schultz “is right: Dems need a thorough, honest analysis of what went wrong. … Business as usual is not the clarion call we need now.”
Even the House’s third-ranking Democrat, Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, acknowledged there should be some examination of how the messaging strategy was executed.
“A couple of weeks before the election, my travels around the country, in and out of these congressional districts, led me to the conclusion that our message, or a lack thereof, was causing a problem,” Clyburn told CQ Roll Call on Monday. “Where was the Democratic message in this campaign? People couldn’t tell you.”
A leadership aide pushed back against the thesis that House Democrats lacked a compelling narrative on the campaign trail, and that leaders are required to self-flagellate to prove they’re disappointed.
The aide told CQ Roll Call that the caucus had numerous opportunities to collaborate on a party platform ahead of the midterms, with Pelosi and Israel holding listening sessions to hone talking points and messaging strategy. The result was the “Middle Class Jumpstart” economic agenda, which House Democrats promised to implement within their first 100 days of regaining control of the chamber.
Attendance was always high at these special planning meetings, the leadership aide continued; if members now are saying they didn’t like the message or appreciate the tone, it’s not because they never had the chance to make their feelings known. Also, grousing about a lack of message, the aide said, is par for the course for Democrats every two years.
“I think we went beyond doing enough,” Rep. Jose E. Serrano of New York said Wednesday, in defense of the caucus’s strategy this election cycle.
At least one tradition, however, is missing from this year’s election aftermath: Calls for an imminent change at the leaders’ table. It’s a far cry from 2010 when Democrats lost control of the chamber and there was considerable chatter about whether it the time had come for Pelosi to step aside after 12 years in leadership.
“It does not just fall on Nancy,” Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona told CQ Roll Call Wednesday, adding that responsibility for what went wrong on Election Day was a “shared one” among the whole House Democratic Caucus.
So for the time being, even ambitious lawmakers clamoring to move up in the House’s party power structure are keeping their powder dry, perhaps expecting 2016 to be the year where a sea change finally takes place at the very top.
There are also fewer members in elected office willing to risk even a symbolic challenge of Pelosi, Clyburn or Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland. There is now a shortage of fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats willing to “take one for the team,” as ex-Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina did four years ago.
But it doesn’t mean that Democrats don’t want to see some changes. That’s especially true for the dozens of members who were elected in 2012 eager to compromise and get things done, even if it meant working with Republicans.
One member of that class, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., said there needs to be a “whole different level of engagement” between members and leadership going forward, and she predicted the caucus would be confronted with the challenge of evaluating the status quo.
“I am ready to talk and have an action plan ready on Wednesday,” Lujan Grisham told CQ Roll Call on Nov. 8, adding that she wanted to see the 2016 cycle built around talking points that focused more on positive ideas and less on partisan finger-pointing.
In a separate interview on Tuesday, first-term Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., one of the most vulnerable incumbents of the cycle, said members were undeniably getting antsy with business-as-usual in the senior ranks.
“I think you’re going to have some of the more senior members frustrated about when we’re going to get the House back,” said Murphy, “and you got some younger, newer members who kind of want to be set free and don’t want to be tied down as much.
“They want to talk about the things that got them elected in the first place,” he continued. “This is a new generation of leadership.”
Correction 4:26 p.m.
An earlier version of this post misstated the state that Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. represents in Congress. He represents New Jersey.
Pelosi, who is running to keep her job, is telling her shrinking caucus she can keep showing them the money. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated 9:39 p.m. | In a private call with her restive — and shrinking — flock — Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed to her fundraising prowess as a reason to keep her post — while some of her top allies blamed President Barack Obama for the party’s woes.
Pelosi hopes to continue leading the caucus although many members are privately discussing when there will be a change in senior leadership ranks.
“I know where the money is,” the California Democrat said, according to sources on the call. “I know where to get it.”
As the party looks ahead to the 2016 presidential election cycle, perhaps Pelosi’s best argument in her favor despite Republicans taking the biggest majority in decades is her fundraising ability. In the last 12 years, she has raised more than $400 million, a staggering sum that no other lawmaker can begin to match. Full story
Despite midterm losses of at least 13 House seats, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is unlikely to face any serious calls to step down as the leader of the Democratic Caucus, party insiders tell CQ Roll Call.
Members, aides and operatives say Pelosi and all of her lieutenants are expected to be unopposed in their bids to retain leadership posts.
The suspense is over: In the quickest announcement in three cycles regarding her political future, Nancy Pelosi is asking to be re-elected as leader of the House Democratic Caucus.
In a formal letter to current and future colleagues on Wednesday afternoon, Pelosi said that despite huge electoral losses that gave Republicans their largest House majority in nearly a century, she wanted to continue leading the caucus to effect change on values all Democrats share.
The California Democrat in particular highlighted amending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as among her biggest priorities for the next two years.
“Only by changing our political environment and broadening the universe of the electorate can we build a strong sense of community and an economy that works for everyone,” she wrote in her letter, obtained by CQ Roll Call. “This basic and even non-partisan challenge, which many of you told me you share, have convinced me to place my name in nomination for Leader when our Caucus meets.” Full story