Young GOP lawmakers want more power

Young GOP lawmakers want more power
© Greg Nash

A group of GOP lawmakers frustrated with the party’s messaging efforts want to use the leadership races to win more influence for younger members.

Roughly thirty lawmakers, a chunk of them under the age of 40, were slated to meet Wednesday to begin early discussions about how to get a bigger say in the GOP’s messaging strategy.

“There's certainly an appetite among the younger members to organize and to kind of figure out what direction we want to see our conference go after the Ryan era,” said Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloDems see blue 'tsunami' in House as Senate path narrows GOP spokeswoman says Republicans will lose House seats in midterms Cook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems MORE (Fla.), 38, one of the most vulnerable Republicans running for reelection this fall.


While some young Republican members had been casually discussing for months forming a coalition to better represent their interests in Congress, the idea has taken on a new sense of urgency following Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care Trump urges Dems to help craft new immigration laws: ‘Chuck & Nancy, call me!' Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa MORE’s (R-Wis.) sudden retirement announcement last week.

At least one of the budding group’s members — freshman Rep. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorHouse battlefield expands as ad wars hit new peak Overnight Health Care: Bill banning 'gag clauses' on drugs heads to Trump's desk | Romney opposes Utah Medicaid expansion | GOP candidate under fire over ad on pre-existing conditions GOP ad uses shark to hit Dem on 'government takeover' of health care MORE (R-Va.), 38 — is weighing a bid for Republican conference chairman, according to one GOP source. Rep. Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveRepublicans should prepare for Nancy Pelosi to wield the gavel Election Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach Poll: Republican Mia Love tied with Dem challenger in Utah House race MORE (R-Utah) is also contemplating throwing her hat in the ring for conference chair, according to another GOP source with knowledge of the situation.

“We need some of the millennial members of Congress at the table when the policy decisions are being made that will affect our generation as much as any,” said freshman Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzFormer FBI lawyer speaks with House lawmakers on Rosenstein, 2016 House panels postpone meeting with Rosenstein Florida Dems attack GOP campaign as ‘racist’ after Republican labels Gillum 'Kill'em' on crime MORE (R-Fla.), a 35-year-old firebrand conservative who has made a name for himself through his constant stream of cable news appearances.

“There are a lot of the younger members that I've had informal discussions with that would like to see a younger person pursue one of the leadership positions.”

The effort is being spearheaded by Reps. Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherOvernight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations NATO head shoots down idea of naming new headquarters after McCain Overnight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel MORE (R-Wis.), Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastDems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms Cook moves status of 6 House races as general election sprint begins Rep. Mast wins GOP nod after facing two primary challengers MORE (R-Fla.), Mia Love (R-Utah), Gaetz, Taylor and Curbelo.

The band of lawmakers has no official name yet, and lawmakers involved in the effort don’t necessarily envision themselves as being a voting bloc on legislation.

“It’s still loose, it’s still early,” said Taylor. “I don’t know what it will look like it.”

“We’ve been discussing this randomly throughout the last year,” he added. “We’re like hey, this messaging stinks.”

One lawmaker pointed to the GOP tax-cut bill debate.

Some of the millennial members stood up and pitched the idea of creating a calculator for social media to demonstrate how people would stand to benefit from the legislation, which was still being debated at the time

“We were asking for that for a while. Nothing was heeded. And now, you go to the IRS website, and what do they have? An IRS calculator,” the lawmaker said. “And we take a beating for three months over the ‘tax scam.’ If we had done this on the front end, it would have spread like wildfire.”

Unlike the Democratic party, the House GOP has term limits for chairmanships, which has helped younger Republicans rise through the ranks more quickly.

But there is frustration among rank-and-file members about how much power Republican leadership has in the decision-making process.

“We've been frustrated that the boomers will get together and make the decisions and then come to the millennials and say, 'What's your advice on how we can message this,' ” Gaetz said. “That's like salting the gumbo at the end instead of salting it when you're cooking it.”

The group is still figuring out whether there is a young candidate that they could rally behind for a leadership post.

Some young members have their eye on the Republican conference chair — a job that is currently occupied by Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersTrump 'baby blimp' flies in Washington state for Pence visit The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Citi — FBI widens scope of Kavanaugh investigation | Nightmare vote for red-state Dems | Five weeks to midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Kavanaugh ordeal thrusts FBI into new political jam MORE (R-Wash.) and which has a hand in messaging.

Taylor is interested in running for the job, according to one GOP source, though it’s unclear whether he would be willing to challenge McMorris Rodgers for the spot.

Rep. Jason SmithJason Thomas SmithRecord numbers of women nominated for governor, Congress House GOP starts summer break on a note of friction Overnight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms MORE (R-Mo.), who is already a member of leadership as the Republican conference secretary, could also move up the ladder. But the 37-year-old is unlikely to challenge McMorris Rodgers, whom he has worked closely with on the leadership team.

Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikRyan signals support for sanctions if Saudis killed Khashoggi Ryan on Trump’s ‘Horseface’ tweet: There’s no place for that type of language Cuomo: Driver in deadly limo crash did not have proper license MORE (R-N.Y.) is another name that has been floated as a potential candidate for some type of leadership role, a GOP source told The Hill.

If the young coalition is willing to band together and play hardball in the Speaker’s race, they would have the numbers to block any candidate from securing the gavel if the GOP hangs on to their majority.

Taylor acknowledged it’s “possible” that they could trade their votes for the next Speaker in exchange for a spot in leadership — a tactic that the House Freedom Caucus has tried to use in past leadership battles.

“This is politics, those things happen all the time,” Taylor said.

Gaetz said he believes the group is more focused on pushing younger members to seek higher positions than an attempt to upheave current leadership.

“That's been my challenge, because there's such a culture around here that the way you get into the leadership is you raise money for people, you spend a ton of time on committees,” Gaetz told The Hill, stressing he has no interest in seeking a leadership position.

“And in some ways some of those cultural elements of leadership races are discriminatory against younger people, who haven't been here as long, but still have a meaningful contribution.”