Flores envisions a less combative RSC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Good news for Speaker John A. Boehner: The next Republican Study Committee chairman wants to work with him — and he doesn’t want any public fights.
In an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that will air Sunday, newly elected RSC Chairman Bill Flores laid out a vision for a more collaborative, less publicly combative RSC. For a preview of how he intends to run the conservative group, he points to the mission statement: The Republican Study Committee is dedicated to a limited and Constitutional role for the federal government, a strong national defense, the protection of individual and property rights, and the preservation of traditional family values.
Time and again, Flores returned to the mission statement as the guiding document of his chairmanship. The RSC creed has been a hot topic for Flores since he told Breitbart News that, according to the mission statement, it’s not the RSC chairman’s role to hold the greater GOP caucus leadership accountable.
The 170-member caucus of conservative Republicans in the House has been a springboard in recent years for former chairmen — such as Louisian’s Steve Scalise, who is now House GOP whip, and Texas’ Jeb Hensarling, now chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
Flores, a 60-year-old Texas Republican, ran for RSC chairman on a platform of working with leadership. And now that he’s been elected to the position over his more conservative competition — Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Louie Gohmert of Texas — he is further emphasizing his less confrontational approach.
“To the extent that we have differences with our leadership, rather than airing those differences in public, we will keep those private,” Flores said.
The incoming chairman said there was “pretty good alignment” between what GOP leadership wants to do and what the RSC wants to do. “And so our goal is to put forth the most positive, achievable solutions and ask our leadership to do that,” Flores said. “And we’ll be pushy. I just don’t intend to do it in a public forum, unless our membership desires that we do that publicly.”
Asked about the members of the RSC who might want to see their chairman publicly prodding leadership toward more conservative proposals, Flores returned to the mission statement.
“If the membership of the Republican Study Committee wants to change the mission statement to say that part of our mission is to be publicly pushy with our leadership, I’m willing to fulfill the mission statement,” he said. “I signed on as chair to fulfill the mission statement, whatever it is.”
He reiterated that the 34-word proclamation, as it is currently written, is not to be “pushy” with leadership, “or to be banging on our leadership,” and he returned to the document of intent when asked about outside conservative groups that have sometimes been a thorn in Boehner’s side.
“The mission statement doesn’t say anything about working with the outside groups,” Flores said.
He said some of these groups were doing “great work” for the country and had missions to advance a conservative vision.
“But, in some ways, I think that they are — some of them, I believe, have other missions,” he said. “And that is to raise money. They have missions to primary Republicans.”
Flores noted that he’d like to work with them as much as he can, but said his “primary responsibility” was to work with our RSC membership, “not to work with the outside groups.”
Pressed on whether groups such as Heritage Action and Club for Growth had been forces for good for Republicans in Congress, Flores gave a mixed message: “Sometimes they have and sometimes they’ve been less helpful.”
Overall, Flores emphasized advocating for achievable solutions, and he said the RSC would put forward proposals that would appeal to more than just conservatives.
He argued that Republicans needed to address sequestration to protect the Defense Department from the automatic spending cuts, and he said that he, personally, would like to see some sort of border security bill.
“The challenge as the chair is to be able to get as many of what I think will be 185 members on our roster, to come to a common set of ideals as we move forward in the next Congress,” he said.
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