House

Right splinters from House GOP group

A bloc of leading House conservatives is splintering off from the Republican Study Committee, complaining that the conservative group had become too large and cozy with party leaders and special interests to be effective.

Discussions have been happening for the past year, but lawmakers decided in meetings Monday night and Tuesday that they would move forward with forming a rival, invite-only group to push the GOP conference to the right on policy matters. More than 30 GOP lawmakers attended the Monday gathering, but membership will be limited to a “manageable size.”

{mosads}News of the new group was first reported by National Journal.

The nine directors of the new, nameless group are some of the biggest figures in conservative circles: former RSC Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio), and GOP Reps. Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Ron DeSantis (Fla.), John Fleming (La.), Scott Garrett (N.J.), Raúl Labrador (Idaho), Mark Meadows (N.C.), Mick Mulvaney (S.C.) and Matt Salmon (Ariz.).

“Some will continue to be members of the RSC, but I will not be a member of the RSC,” Labrador, a Tea Party favorite, said in an interview Tuesday. “I believe over time there have been some RSC members who’ve wanted to be more of a debating organization, but some of us came here to push a conservative agenda, not a K Street agenda.”

Last fall, Mulvaney lost to Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) in the race for chairman of the 160-member RSC. Flores had been leadership’s choice in the three-way race and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), a past RSC chairman, reportedly had been whipping votes for Flores.

But organizers of the new group said Flores’s victory had nothing to do with their decision to create the conservative organization, which is “organic” and not affiliated with any outside conservative groups.

“We’ve been meeting for one year discussing what direction conservative Republicans should take,” said one of the members. “We decided maybe we needed an organization that was smaller and more nimble and could address the major concerns of our constituents back home.”

Flores has vowed to take a softer approach at the RSC, saying he wants to sit down with GOP leaders behind closed doors to hash out differences rather than blasting them in news releases and TV interviews.

In a statement, he downplayed the departures of some RSC members and the launch of the rival group.

“I am committed to working with all House conservatives, and all Republican Study Committee members, who believe in limited government and advancing liberty,” Flores said.

“Over the next Congress, there will be healthy debates about how to best achieve those goals, and the Republican Study Committee will play a critical role in fostering those debates to develop conservative solutions that address our nation’s most pressing problems.”

Tags Jim Jordan Justin Amash Mick Mulvaney Raul Labrador Republican Study Committee
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