GOP Congressman Rips Tea Party Colleagues: ‘I’m Not Sure They’re Republicans’

Intra-party tensions are running high as end to shutdown nears.

Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) (C) speaks as Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) (R), and House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) listen during a news conference after a closed House Republican Conference meeting May 15, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
Add to Briefcase
Shane Goldmacher
Oct. 16, 2013, 11:10 a.m.

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.

Tim Alberta contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
TRUMP’S ATTORNEY WAS SET TO TESTIFY ON WEDNESDAY
Senate Intel Postpones Testimony by Cohen
2 days ago
THE LATEST
AMENDMENT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED CONSIDERATION
Senate Rejects Effort to Nix SALT Tax Changes
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."

Source:
INTERVIEWED BY COMMITTEE STAFF
Lewandowski Meets with Senate Intelligence Committee
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."

Source:
FISHING EXPEDITION
Some Members Seek to Wrap Up Russia Investigations by Year’s End
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."

Source:
WROTE LAW THAT WEAKENED OPIOID OVERSIGHT
Trump: Marino Withdrawing Nomination for Drug Czar
5 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login