In a sign of the internal backlash against the right wing of the House Republican Conference, Louisiana Republican Charles Boustany questioned the political allegiances and motivations of his tea party-aligned colleagues and said they had put the GOP majority at risk in the current shutdown fight.
“There are members with a different agenda,” Boustany said Wednesday in an interview in his office. “And I’m not sure they’re Republicans and I’m not sure they’re conservative.”
His comments came a day after rank-and-file House Republicans rejected a package to reopen the government authored by their own leader, Speaker John Boehner. The result is that a bipartisan Senate-authored deal to end the two-week government shutdown appears poised to pass with almost nothing of substance gained by House conservatives for the shutdown they precipitated.
“The speaker has said consistently unless we can put 218 votes up, and preferably more than that, our ability to negotiate is pretty much undermined and that’s the problem we’ve repeatedly found ourselves in,” said Boustany, who has served since 2005 and is a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee. “Look at payroll tax. Look at fiscal cliff. You can go on and on. There are a handful of members ““ the numbers sort of vary, it’s in the 20-30 range ““ that are enough to derail a Republican conservative agenda in the House.”
Boustany said those lawmakers are so obsessed with opposing any compromise that they end up driving the final legislative result further from the broader GOP goals. “I think there are members who are in complete denial about their responsibility to govern and to try to use conservative principles to get the best possible legislative package we can get,” he said.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who typically lines up with the most conservative faction of the House, agreed that the GOP rejection of Boehner’s plan has resulted in a “much, much worse” deal at a monthly forum sponsored by the Heritage Foundation Wednesday.
Boustany, a former surgeon who is not known as the most outspoken GOP member, said he fears his party’s inability to rule the chamber with its own majority is threatening its hold on the House.
“This could trigger a wave of discontent that could wash out our Republican majority in the House if we’re not careful ““ it’s getting to that level,” Boustany said.
And he pointed the blame squarely at tea party lawmakers who he said were more concerned about bolstering their conservative bona fides than governing.
“Their allegiance is not to the members in the conference. Their allegiance is not to the leadership team and to conservative values,” he said. “Their allegiance is to these outside Washington DC interest groups that raise money and go after conservative Republicans.”
Only a handful of House Republicans have spoken out publicly against the hardline faction of the House GOP, but Boustany said the shutdown had grown their numbers. “There is a very large silent majority that’s getting frustrated with what’s happening because of what these outside groups have done by setting false expectations, deliberately misleading the public on some of these issues and commanding allegiance of certain members who falsely place their allegiance to these groups rather than to their constitutional responsibility to govern,” he said.
What We're Following See More »
Despite trailing Hillary Clinton by a significant margin, Bernie Sanders wasn't going the way of Ted Cruz tonight. The Vermont senator upset Clinton in Indiana, with MSNBC calling the race at 9pm. Sanders appears poised to win by a five- or six-point spread.
And just like that, it's over. Ted Cruz will suspend his presidential campaign after losing badly to Donald Trump in Indiana tonight. "While Cruz had always hedged when asked whether he would quit if he lost Indiana; his campaign had laid a huge bet on the state." John Kasich's campaign has pledged to carry on. “From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” said Cruz. “Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed."
The Republican establishment's last remaining hope—a contested convention this summer—may have just ended in Indiana, as Donald Trump won a decisive victory over Ted Cruz. Nothing Cruz seemed to have in his corner seemed to help—not a presumptive VP pick in Carly Fiorina, not a midwestern state where he's done well in the past, and not the state's legions of conservatives. Though Trump "won't secure the 1,237 delegates he needs to formally claim the nomination until June, his Indiana triumph makes it almost impossible to stop him. Following his decisive wins in New York and other East Coast states, the Indiana victory could put Trump within 200 delegates of the magic number he needs to clinch the nomination." Cruz, meanwhile, "now faces the agonizing choice of whether to remain in the race, with his attempt to force the party into a contested convention in tatters, or to bow out and cede the party nomination to his political nemesis." The Associated Press, which called the race at 7pm, predicts Trump will win at least 45 delegates.