House leadership

Boehner Resigns, Unifies Right and Left in Celebration more than Pope Francis

Something has happened this morning that we have not seen in a long age - conservatives and liberals are united. No, they’re not all celebrating Pope Francis’ message of unity and equality, though there’s some of that, and the papal visit is related. No, what has brought both sides together is the announcement that Speaker John Boehner will resign both his leadership position and House seat at the end of this October.

Apparently speaking to the Pope yesterday moved Boehner so much that he has decided to step down. And who can blame him? Since his ascendancy after Republicans took back the House in 2010, there have been constant calls for his replacement. He’s been called a RINO, a sell-out, a stand-in for the real Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and worse. Conservatives never supported him strongly enough (though most kept reelecting him to the position), and Democrats opposed him on nearly everything.

Boehner was also constantly mocked for his emotional rawness. But again, who can blame him? He’s in awe of his country, his government, despite its flaws, and his position within it. I well up every time I hear the Star-Spangled Banner at a sporting event. I can’t imagine being elected to a government position by your fellow citizens and feeling the overwhelming responsibility and trust that entails.

House Republicans need a conservative leader, not another milquetoast squish like Kevin McCarthy

Raul Labrador

It appears that the House Republican Conference has learned nothing from Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) stunning defeat on Tuesday. Roll Call reports today that Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) may have enough support to replace Cantor, who will step down on July 31.

McCarthy isn’t an improvement over Cantor. If a majority of the House Republican Conference pick him, it will be an endorsement of the status quo — unprincipled, milquetoast leadership that, more often than not, ignores the grassroots.

Sure, Republicans talk a good game on the campaign trail. They say they believe in limited government and freedom on the stump. But when they get back to Washington, they kowtow to K Street. Suddenly, as Stephen Slivinski once said, they no longer look at the nation’s capital as a cesspool, but treat it like a jacuzzi.

There is, however, an alternative to McCarthy, who, as explained yesterday, has a terrible record on fiscal and constitutional issues.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), a liberty-minded Republican, announced just moments ago that he will challenge McCarthy for the top leadership post when the House Republican Conference holds its leadership election Thursday, June 19. Which, by the way, will be conducted by secret ballot.

“I was stunned when Eric Cantor lost his primary election earlier this week. Eric is a good friend and I have tremendous respect for him,” Labrador said in a press release. “But the message from Tuesday is clear – Americans are looking for a change in the status quo.”

House passes Farm Bill without reform, makes subsidies permanent

After a embarrassing defeat last month and despite a veto threat from the White House, House Republican leaders were able to save some face yesterday by passing the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM Act), otherwise known as the “Farm Bill.”

The vote was close, 216 to 208, with every Democrat voting against the measure because food stamp funding was separated from the bill for the first time in several decades. Twelve Republicans voted against the measure because they say it spends too much and didn’t offer any real reform.

While separating food stamps from the Farm Bill — which accounted for nearly 79% of the $940 billion measure that the House voted down last month — does substantially bring down, the $202 billion proposal passed yesterday by the Republican-controlled House, according to The Hillcuts less in subsidies than the bill passed by the Senate.

Do House Republicans really want Farm Bill reform?

As much as I never like to question anyone’s intentions, I finally find myself asking this week, do House Republicans really want to reform Washington?

Perhaps it was naïve, but after the defeat of the Farm Bill, I thought hope was in the air for agriculture policy reform. Numerous Republicans had offered strong amendments, many of which were rejected at the onset by the Rules Committee. And a fair number of the remaining amendments were defeated on the floor at the urging of leadership. This egregious flouting of their party’s desire to curb spending pushed members over the edge. Sixty-two fiscally conservative Republicans revolted against the bill, proving to leadership once and for all that, indeed, they are here to actually make changes.

This failure appeared to make leadership desperate, forcing them to take the drastic step they’d previously vowed to avoid – splitting the bill into two portions, one for food assistance and one for agriculture programs. Reform advocates long have tossed around splitting the bill. Their logic is simple: neither portion of the bill is strong enough to stand alone. Nutrition program supporters and farm program enthusiasts need each other to get the bill across the finish line. So for those who find the programs to be bloated, forcing each portion through on its own merit seemed more likely to yield change than the current back-scratching arrangement.

Today in Liberty: House Republicans already jockey for leadership positions, Cantor’s loss a blow to the NSA

We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” — Winston Churchill

— Let the House leadership races begin: House Republicans, unsurprisingly, began jockeying for position after Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was handed a stunning defeat in the VA-07 primary. The thinking is that Cantor will step down from leadership because he would be ineffective as a lame duck. “Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, the current No. 3 in the House, is all but certain to run for the majority leader post, GOP sources said. McCarthy’s office declined to comment on Cantor’s loss or McCarthy’s plans,” Politico reports. “But the California Republican likely will be challenged by a member of the conservative wing of the House GOP Conference, potentially including Reps. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Jim Jordan of Ohio or Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.” Politico explains that “a full-scale war will break out for majority whip, with Scalise, McMorris Rodgers and Reps. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas) all possibilities for that post.”

A Boehner-less House isn’t just good for conservatives, it’s good for the Republican Party

There have been several stories in recent months about House conservatives discontent with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), which, some have speculated, means that his job could be in jeopardy when the new Congress convenes in January. But there’s also suspicion that he may not stick around next year.

Yeah, Boehner is running for reelection, recently dispatching two primary challengers, but he hasn’t done much to put an end to the guessing game. He bought a condo in South Florida earlier this year and one of his top aides bolted for a job with the health insurance lobby. Boehner recently, when asked, said he couldn’t guarantee that he’d finish another term as Speaker.

There’s also Boehner’s attitude toward members of his own conference. He openly derided House conservatives last month over their attitudes on immigration reform. He, of course, denied that he was mocking his conservative colleagues, though he did meet with them behind closed doors to control the damage he’d done.

Today in Liberty: Conservatives want Obamacare replacement vote, Bloomberg to spend $50 million on anti-gun group

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” — Thomas Jefferson

— House conservatives press for Obamacare replacement vote: Republican leaders suggested earlier this year that they would bring to the floor an Obamacare replacement bill, only to back away not long after. House conservatives are now pressing leadership to live up to the rhetoric and hold a vote on an alternative before the August recess. “At the end of the day, we feel it’s really important to bring a bill to the floor that is a true replacement to the president’s healthcare law,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, told The Hill. “Look, leadership’s come a long way in the last six months on that, and we’re continuing to talk to them to try to get to a point where we actually have a vote on the House floor by the August recess.”

Mulvaney to seek Republican Study Committee chairmanship

Mick Mulvaney

There’s already some jockeying for position for important roles in the next Congress. The National Journal reports that Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) will seek the chairmanship of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a caucus that has historically advanced fiscally conservative causes in the House:

Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina will seek the chairmanship of the Republican Study Committee in the 114th Congress, National Journal has learned, the first significant measure of internal campaigning amid a season marked by quiet, cautious jostling for positions in the next session.
[…]
Mulvaney, a sophomore lawmaker known for his sharp tongue and quick wit, has long been viewed as a favorite to succeed Scalise—partly because of his relationship with some of the founders, including Hensarling and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. Mulvaney’s path to the chairmanship could be complicated, however, if the group’s bylaws are changed.

According to several sources with direct knowledge of the deliberations, the founders are considering a new system under which they would vet candidates and recommend certain people to be included in a caucus-wide vote—without endorsing anyone. Nothing has been finalized, sources cautioned, but the goal would be to avoid having the group’s leaders taking sides in divisive runoff elections.

Today in Liberty: Senate Dems outline Obamacare “fixes,” growth not keeping up with projections

“The American founders often referred to a ‘Liberty Tree.’ Our generation didn’t plant that tree - we didn’t grow that tree - we were simply handed it by the generations of Americans who came before us….Let us highly resolve not to rest until we have delivered to our sons and daughters a Liberty Tree that is just as healthy, a Constitution that is just as strong; and a nation that is just as free as those that our fathers and mothers gave to us.” — Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)

— Senate Dems finally rollout Obamacare fixes: After months of talking about the need for fixes to the law, six Senate Democrats have finally offered some specifics on how they plan to address at least some of Americans’ concerns. The biggest proposal is the introduction of a “Copper Plan,” which, they write at Politico Magazine, “will give consumers more control over their own coverage, spur competition and, most importantly, increase affordability.” Two of the Democrats, Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Mark Begich (D-AK), are up for reelection this year and are thought to be among the chamber’s most vulnerable members. Despite the push for fixes, the Heritage Foundation notes that most of the six “didn’t have strong initial reservations about the massive bill when Obama signed it into law in March 2010.”

Today in Liberty: CPAC 2014 kicks off today, Crimea to hold secession referendum, NSA chief threatens press

“Sometimes you have to beat the Republicans before you beat the Democrats.” — Matt Kibbe

— Happy Anniversary, Rand Paul!: One year ago today, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made history in the Senate by with a 13-hour talking filibuster against John Brennan’s CIA nomination. Though it didn’t stop Brennan’s confirmation, it did raise awareness to the Obama administration’s drone strikes policy and, almost single-handedly, changed public opinion on the issue. You see our coverage of the filibuster here and here. You can also watch the filibuster, if you have 13 hours to spare, in full via C-SPAN.

Stand With Rand

— CPAC  2014 begins today: The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the largest annual gathering of conservatives, will begin this morning at 9 am with a speech from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Other speakers today include Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). C-SPAN will air part of today’s events, beginning at 12:40 pm. Politico has a list of things to watch for this weekend.


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