McMorris Rodgers seeks to tamp down unrest

McMorris Rodgers seeks to tamp down unrest
© Greg Nash

House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersOvernight Energy: Fight over fuel standards intensifies | Democrats grill Trump officials over rule rollback | California official blasts EPA chief over broken talks | Former EPA official says Wheeler lied to Congress EPA head clashes with California over how car emissions negotiations broke down Lawmakers celebrate 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote MORE has been personally calling or meeting with a handful of millennial GOP lawmakers who have raised complaints about the conference’s messaging.

In one case, the Washington state Republican showed up at a lawmaker’s office, sources said.

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Those who received calls or personal visits include Reps. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzMatt Gaetz hints prosecutor won't press charges against threatening caller for political reasons Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid House and Senate head for showdown on must-pass defense bill MORE (R-Fla.), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloDemocratic lawmaker pushes back on Castro's call to repeal law making illegal border crossings a crime The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz MORE (R-Fla.), Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveFormer GOP lawmaker: Trump's tweets have to stop Congressional Women's Softball team releases roster The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (R-Utah), Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikRising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker House approves amendment to reverse transgender military ban MORE (R-N.Y.), Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherOvernight Defense: House votes to block Trump arms sales to Saudis, setting up likely veto | US officially kicks Turkey out of F-35 program | Pentagon sending 2,100 more troops to border House votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale Lawmakers introduce bill to block U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei MORE (R-Wis.) and Scott TaylorScott William TaylorFormer GOP rep launches Senate campaign in Virginia Virginia special prosecutor indicts former GOP campaign staffer The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (R-Va.), sources told The Hill.

Aides to McMorris Rodgers, the No. 4 GOP leader, also have reached out to some of those lawmakers’ offices and accused them of anonymously criticizing McMorris Rodgers in the press, these lawmakers said.

McMorris Rodgers, the only woman in both House and Senate Republican leadership, will convene a meeting with the millennial lawmakers on Thursday.

The flurry of meetings and calls follow a report in The Hill about some younger members being disgruntled with her leadership, and a separate report in Politico about lawmakers considering challenging her for her leadership post.

In a brief interview in the Capitol on Wednesday, McMorris Rodgers would not directly say whether she personally reached out to the younger members in recent days.

“I bring members together on a regular basis,” she told The Hill.

“We have 20 members under 40. Our members are six years on average younger than our House Democrats. I’m excited about promoting everyone in this conference; that’s been my approach, to really empower the members and promote them,” McMorris Rodgers, 48, continued.

“I want us reaching out to millennials, to women, to minorities, connecting our message however we can. And if they have some ideas, I absolutely want to hear those ideas to continue to build upon what we’ve already been doing.”

Talk among GOP lawmakers about potential changes in leadership has ramped up since Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOcasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump MORE’s retirement announcement.

McMorris Rodgers made an appearance at a Republican Study Committee meeting on Wednesday after Politico had reported that the conservative group’s chairman, Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark Walker GOP lawmaker decries 'send her back' chants: 'This ugliness must end' GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries This week: Lawmakers return as Amash fallout looms MORE (R-N.C.), was considering running for her leadership spot.

Regular attendees of RSC meetings said they had not seen McMorris Rodgers at any meetings this year. Aides to the congresswoman said she does attend some meetings and was there Wednesday to speak about her bill protecting the Columbia River and Snake River dams.

Two of the members who received calls from McMorris Rodgers characterized some of the phone discussions as confrontational.

“She was very defensive,” one GOP member who received a phone call from McMorris Rodgers over the weekend told The Hill.

A second GOP lawmaker said McMorris Rodgers had called or met with all of the younger members named in the story published by The Hill last week.

“All the people listed in that article, she called over the weekend. Different members had different conversations; some were more confrontational,” said the second lawmaker, who also received a call from McMorris Rodgers.

“You know that whole idea, ‘Don’t let them see you sweat’ — she missed that.”

Other GOP lawmakers say members who may be gunning for McMorris Rodgers’s job are treating a loyal and effective member of leadership unfairly.

Longtime Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenWomen lawmakers to play in Congressional Baseball Game following Title IX anniversary Press beat lawmakers to keep trophy in annual softball game K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers MORE (R-Fla.) lashed out at some of the younger members who have criticized McMorris Rodgers on the record and anonymously, saying these critics were only after power.

“She’s such a valued leader and trusted voice in our conference. It is bewildering to me how some of these folks who are envious of power and prestige are running her down in order to pull themselves up,” said Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring after more than two decades in Congress.

Rep. Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloHead of Pennsylvania GOP resigns over alleged explicit texts Lobbying world Overnight Energy: Park Service closing Joshua Tree after shutdown damage | Dems deliver trash from parks to White House | Dems offer bills to block offshore drilling | Oil lobby worries about Trump trade fight MORE (R-Pa.) said he reached out to McMorris Rodgers this week to offer support, characterizing some of the personal attacks against her as “out of bounds.”

Some younger members have expressed dissatisfaction with the party’s messaging efforts, arguing they need a new strategy that resonates with a younger generation of Republicans.

The group of young lawmakers have been informally meeting for months to discuss the direction of the party, with several members advocating for someone under the age of 40 to be added to leadership.

“It's just a dissatisfaction of overall messaging and a younger group having a seat at the table,” Taylor told The Hill on what the group hopes to accomplish ahead of a meeting Tuesday.

GOP sources said Love, Stefanik and Taylor could be potential contenders to take over as conference chair.

After the French president’s speech to Congress, McMorris Rodgers and one of those young lawmakers, Love, were spotted Wednesday morning having a friendly chat on the first floor of the Capitol.

McMorris Rodgers, a seven-term congresswoman, said she’s worked closely with Stefanik, 33, who chairs the GOP’s Millennial Task Force. Some of those events targeting younger voters include millennial “meet-ups” and Google hangouts.

“Messaging is a challenge these days, but I’m proud of the work that we have done in the House, getting results, the impact on the economy, on every single person in this country,” McMorris Rodgers said. “And I am always seeking ways to do better.”

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsLawmakers request documents on DC councilman ethics investigation House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran MORE was also critical of those lobbying anonymous attacks on McMorris Rodgers.

“I have a good relationship with Cathy,” Meadows told The Hill on Wednesday. “I think it’s inappropriate to bring personalities and accusations into anything as it’s related to other members.”

Ros-Lehtinen was particularly striking with her criticism.

“It’s a bad trait because Cathy has been up front, she’s been approachable, she’s always been there for us through thick and thin. She’s always open to our ideas and to say she no longer represents our conference is ludicrous.

“To want power doesn’t mean you have to drag someone down,” Ros-Lehtinen added.

“Shame on them! Shame on them!”