House Instigators Work Outside the Spotlight

  WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 10: during a "Exempt America from Obamacare" rally,  on Capitol Hill, September 10, 2013 in Washington, DC. Some conservative lawmakers are making a push to try to defund the health care law as part of the debates over the budget and funding the federal government. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 10:during a "Exempt America from Obamacare" rally,  on Capitol Hill, September 10, 2013 in Washington, DC. Some conservative lawmakers are making a push to try to defund the health care law as part of the debates over the budget and funding the federal government.  
National Journal
Billy House
Oct. 2, 2013, 6:21 p.m.

The Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans whose ar­gu­ments helped drag Obama­care in­to the fund­ing de­bate are well-known. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah have gained much at­ten­tion.

But what about their coun­ter­parts in the House?

A small group of con­ser­vat­ive House mem­bers has had broad in­flu­ence over the fisc­al de­bate, help­ing to steer the ac­tions of Speak­er John Boehner and the Re­pub­lic­an con­fer­ence. And yet few of them have stepped in­to the na­tion­al spot­light.

“They meet secretly, they plot and they plan,” said Rep. Dev­in Nunes, R-Cal­if.

One of the most vis­ible is Rep. Tom Graves of Geor­gia, who got dozens of fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans to sup­port his ef­fort to de­fund Obama­care and who, along with Cruz and Lee, has been in­stru­ment­al in the push to use the fund­ing fight to weak­en the Af­ford­able Care Act. Oth­ers in­clude reg­u­lar mav­er­icks like Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Tim Huel­skamp of Kan­sas, and Steve King of Iowa. There are also Reps. Paul Broun of Geor­gia, Thomas Massie of Ken­tucky, Steve Stock­man of Texas, and Ted Yoho of Flor­ida.

Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi has called the House tea-party wing a bunch of “le­gis­lat­ive ar­son­ists” for their de­mands. Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id has called them “an­arch­ists.”

While few doubt there is a genu­ine hatred of the Af­ford­able Care Act and an an­ti­gov­ern­ment fer­vor among this group, some law­makers sug­gest that the budget battle was also de­signed as a vehicle to weak­en Boehner and help re­make the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence it­self.

Rep. Mark Mead­ows, R-N.C., a tea-party-aligned mem­ber, said Wed­nes­day that he’s heard such sug­ges­tions about him­self and oth­ers who have played key in­stig­at­ing roles be­hind the House ef­fort to tie the dis­mant­ling of Obama­care to a bill that funds gov­ern­ment. And, in­deed, Mead­ows wrote a let­ter to his Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers this sum­mer sug­gest­ing that very strategy, also signed by dozens of col­leagues.

But Wed­nes­day, Mead­ows said talk that the idea was in­ten­ded to em­bar­rass or un­der­mine Boehner is un­true.

“I can tell you there’s been ab­so­lutely no con­ver­sa­tions about a new speak­er,” he said. “If any­thing, I’ve made just a great ap­peal to thank lead­er­ship in a united way.”

Nunes points out that many of the mem­bers in­volved in the Obama­care de­bate were part of the same group that “at­temp­ted this goofy thing right as we came out of the gate this year,” re­fer­ring to a botched ef­fort by some House law­makers to pre­vent Boehner from win­ning his second term as speak­er in Janu­ary. More than 20 House Re­pub­lic­ans were said to be be­hind that ef­fort — enough to keep Boehner from get­ting a re­quired ma­jor­ity-plus-one — but the re­bel­lion fizzled.

In the time since then, Nunes said, many have worked to pre­vent Boehner from get­ting enough votes in the House to pass le­gis­la­tion without hav­ing to turn to Demo­crats for help, which some might see as weak. He sug­gests a sim­il­ar strategy is in play on the budget im­passe now.

“So what was the real ob­ject­ive? A lot of these guys, when you talk to them privately, the guys who don’t let us get to 218 on any­thing, they’ll tell you, “˜Well, we just figured the lead­er­ship was go­ing to cave,’ “ Nunes said. He said their be­lief was that Boehner would cut a deal with Pres­id­ent Obama and Demo­crats, and by his do­ing so would fur­ther un­der­mine his stand­ing as speak­er.

“So now just step back from this — if they ac­tu­ally thought Boehner was go­ing to cave, that means they nev­er ac­tu­ally had a real plan to deal with the CR to be­gin with,” Nunes said. “From the be­gin­ning, this nev­er made sense.”

A Boehner spokes­man had no com­ment.

But an­oth­er House Re­pub­lic­an law­maker, speak­ing on the con­di­tion he not be named, said that Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor and Ma­jor­ity Whip Kev­in Mc­Carthy, R-Cal­if., share part of the blame for the open­ness and brazen­ness with which some con­ser­vat­ives now openly defy the speak­er.

While there are few pub­lic con­front­a­tions with­in the lead­er­ship trio, he noted that both Can­tor and Mc­Carthy voted on New Year’s against the bill de­signed to avert the so-called fisc­al cliff, abandon­ing Boehner. The law­maker said that il­lus­trated for oth­ers that Boehner’s in­flu­ence could be chal­lenged.

“It’s one thing to sit at the lead­er­ship table and dis­agree and talk through things,” the law­maker said. “It’s an­oth­er to then leave the table and do so. And since the fisc­al cliff when you had No. 2 and No. 3 not back No. 1, every­body’s been say­ing, “˜Where are these guys?’ “

Mead­ows in­sists that what he and the oth­er con­ser­vat­ives be­hind the ef­fort to tie Obama­care to a CR are try­ing to ac­com­plish has noth­ing to do with oust­ing Boehner.

“We are united in this ef­fort to get gov­ern­ment back open and work­ing again. So, there’s been no talk of any­thing like that,” he said.

What We're Following See More »
CHARM OFFENSIVE
Pence Is Trump’s Man on Capitol Hill
54 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Spurred by VP pick Mike Pence, a former congressman with close ties to many lawmakers, the Trump campaign in recent weeks has stepped up its courtship of wary Capitol Hill Republicans. And the efforts appear to be bearing fruit." Central to the charm offensive: invitations to more than a dozen "Senate and House members into his family’s private box for some power-schmoozing with him and his kids" during the Republican National Convention.

Source:
PAUL RYAN: STOP IT
Trump Encourages More Spying by Russia
58 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump essentially encouraged more Russian espionage against Democrats in a press conference this morning. "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” That prompted Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan to say: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”

Source:
ONE MORE INVESTIGATION
IRS Investigating Clinton Foundation
2 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Investigations are never far from the Clintons, and here's another: At the behest of "dozens" of Republican lawmakers, the IRS is opening a fraud investigation into the Clinton Foundation."The move signals a shift from the IRS's announcement last year that it would not look into allegations of financial irregularities at the well-connected charity."

Source:
INFIGHTING AMONG COMMISSIONERS TO BLAME
Report Details Terrible Morale at FEC
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Bickering commissioners, ineffective managers and lousy internal communication rank among the top reasons why the Federal Election Commission" has some of the worst morale in the federal government. That's the conclusion of an inspector general's report, which put "the most blame on the FEC’s six commissioners: three Democratic appointees and three Republican appointees who have regularly criticized one another and frequently (but not exclusively) deadlocked on high-profile political issues before them."

Source:
TRADE DEALS BACK IN THE NEWS
UAW President: Clinton Promised to Renegotiate NAFTA
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

On Tuesday, Dennis Williams, the president of the United Auto Workers, said that Hillary Clinton has told him that she will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement if elected president. Trade deals, especially NAFTA, have played a prominent role in the campaign, with Clinton receiving heat both from her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders and GOP nominee Donald Trump. The Clinton campaign did not comment on Williams's comments, though that didn't stop the Trump campaign from weighing in. Hillary Clinton "will never renegotiate Bill Clinton's NAFTA," said Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to Trump.

Source:
×