Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 10, 2016

Heritage Action CEO Lays Into House GOP

Heritage Action for America CEO Michael Needham on Thursday cast House Republicans as gutless for backing down on Obamacare and the farm bill.

“Washington loves to play this game of saying something can’t be done,” he said. “Politicians like to set expectations as low as possible so they can’t help but trip over them.”

During a C-SPAN “Newsmakers” interview with CQ Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski and The Hill’s Bob Cusack, which will air Sunday, Needham said Republicans don’t know what is possible because there are still seven weeks until Sept. 30, when the government will need new spending legislation to avoid a shutdown.

Lawmakers have been asking what Heritage Action’s strategy would be if the government shut down, and they say Heritage doesn’t have an answer.

But Needham shrugged off that concern.

“See where we stand at the end of September,” he implored. “Normally, when you go into a negotiation you try to preserve option value, you don’t take it off the table. And so I think that rather than trying to figure out where we’re going to be, we should actually fight for something.

“Passing a CR is a concession from Republicans,” Needham said of the likelihood that Congress will pass a stopgap continuing resolution to keep the government funded.

Needham also had harsh words for Republicans on the farm bill.

“The disappointing thing about the farm bill is that House Republicans basically said that we’re going to split this bill. We’re going to say, ‘You know what, we’re not interested right now in food stamps, in welfare for the poor and the needy, but we’re also such a corporatist party that we won’t get rid of the corporate welfare in the farm bill,’” Needham said. “And that’s a pretty dicey political position be in.”

Needham conceded that “probably what’s likely to happen” is that the House and Senate will adopt the food stamp provisions of the Senate in conference as a result of splitting the farm bill.

But Needham also expressed hope that lawmakers would instead pass a one-year farm bill extension so his organization and other like-minded conservatives could get another whack at it.

“I hope we have that scenario,” Needham said. “For three years we’ve been trying to meet with [House Agriculture Chairman] Frank Lucas and talk to the House [Agriculture] Committee about what would a modern, 21st century farm bill would look like.”

Heritage Action has been pushing Republicans to vote down any CR that funds Obamacare. But GOP leadership has quietly been lobbying against the strategy, which they say can’t be achieved with a Democratic Senate and White House.

Last week, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told National Review that the strategy would require 14 Democrats in the Senate to join all Republicans in voting for a continuing resolution without Obamacare.

“Right now, I am not aware of a single Democrat in the Senate who would join us,” Cantor said.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

  • Andre Leonard

    Sad the state the GOP has morphed into. To say there is a leadership vacuum is an understatement.

    The GOP is on the verge of losing yet more members and voters.

  • Robert G. Berry Jr.

    Reality is forcing the progressives in the republican party out into the sunshine where there is no place to hide and the leadership is being seen for who they really are which is that they are the same thing as the democrats. The people are telling their congressional delegations to kill Obamacare, terminate the destruciton of the economy by ending all of the progressive agenda and calling the bluff of the white house and the congressional leadership. Fund only the requirements of the constitution, and let the rest of it close down.

    • ranger99

      As a lifelong Democrat I certainly hope the GOP follows your advice. It will be the greatest political gift of all time and will ensure that the Senate stays in Democrat hands in 2014.

    • Jesse4

      That’s right, ignore those RINOs and purge them from the party!
      That group has most of the electable Republicans, and that’s the last thing we need on election day.

      • Robert G. Berry Jr.

        Gee and guess what? Maybe the people will elect them and take the country back from all of the dictatorial progressives and we will see the counstitution really in action instead. But that is your worst nightmare isn’t it? We the people telling all of you that you are the servants of the public not the master fo the plantations.

  • John Allegro

    If we are to continue discovering better ways of doing things, as many people as possible must be as free as possible to experiment and innovate.

  • BenDoubleCrossed

    Some important bills are traditionally introduced at the request of the President, such as the annual federal budget. Part of Congress’s exercise of legislative authority is the establishment of an annual budget for the government. Why hasn’t government done its job?

    Without a budget there is no real constraint on government spending. Obama just refers to the Full Faith and Credit Clause and Congress grumbles but falls in line!

  • Sharon Solesbee

    If you really want a better farm bill then consider #hemp and cannabis legalization. If the #GOP wants to end welfare, consider cannabis reform. The republican party is more like a regressive bunch of juveniles whining about not getting their moneys worth. Cannabis is harmless medicine that the government has a patent on, yet the DEA still publishes distorted falsehood that it has no medical use. That is why it remains a Schedule I controlled substance. Do something good for humanity sake. Consider cannabis reform – it’s not rocket science.

  • Only18Powers

    Have some consideration for the American children.
    Dear Mr. President
    Whenever congress presents you with a spending bill that overdraws their checking account, please explain to congress that you have to veto it. Please explain to congress that by overdrawing their checking account, again, they will be making things worse, not better. Since congress has already overdrawn it’s checking account by $16 Trillion, congress has way too much debt. Remind them that America’s debt target is zero, because the more debt congress has, the more interest congress has to pay, and right now, congress is wasting over $1 Billion of it’s $5 Billion daily income in interest on the debt. When the debt is gone, congress won’t be wasting over $1 Billion a day in interest. To get to the target of zero debt, congress has to work toward that goal every single day, and only you, Mr. President, can force them to spend LESS than they take in every day. You can suggest to those in congress that congress conserve just 18 cents of every dollar of it’s income and use it for 3 things. Use 15 cents to pay down the debt and 3 cents to cut taxes and build a reserve fund for emergencies.

  • Only18Powers

    There are STILL no requirements to have ANY financial knowledge to be in congress. If the president came from congress, you can’t blame the president for being ignorant about financial matters.

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