GOP leader warns lawmakers on fundraising: 'Getting our ass kicked'

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy yanks endorsement of California candidate over social media posts Trump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead MORE (R-Calif.) in a closed-door meeting of his conference on Tuesday admonished Republicans for insufficient fundraising, telling the members, "We're getting our ass kicked."

The stark message comes amid rising concerns that Democratic Party committees and candidates are building a massive financial advantage, seriously compromising the GOP’s chances of reclaiming the House in the elections in November.

At the meeting, McCarthy, House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Pelosi makes fans as Democrat who gets under Trump's skin Trump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy MORE (R-La.) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerHouse Republicans voice optimism on winning back the House following special election victories GOP pulls support from California House candidate over 'unacceptable' social media posts Trump campaign launches new fundraising program with House Republicans MORE (R-Minn.) urged members to step up their fundraising and their contributions to the NRCC. 

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“Emmer said we are sounding the alarm,” one source in the room told The Hill. “Steve said members need to be raising money and paying dues, Kevin said we’re getting our ass kicked.” 

“McCarthy and Emmer reviewed the overall numbers and the disparity. Also stressed difference between D and R member and candidate campaign COH [cash on hand] — about a $40m disparity,” one GOP lawmaker texted The Hill. “ Members need to meet their dues commitment minimally while also funding their campaign. Too many members well behind on their dues.” 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $125 million in 2019, according to DCCC Chairwoman Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosGOP pulls support from California House candidate over 'unacceptable' social media posts Republican flips House seat in California special election GOP's Don Bacon and challenger neck and neck in Democratic poll MORE (D-Ill.). Emmer said this month the NRCC had raised $85 million last year, a serious deficit even for a minority party.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBottom line This week: Surveillance fight sets early test for House's proxy voting Women suffering steeper job losses in COVID-19 economy MORE (D-Calif.) raised $87 million for party committees and candidates in 2019; McCarthy’s office said Tuesday he had raised $52.3 million for Republican candidates and the NRCC, while Scalise raised $21 million.

“It’s not so much we’re doing badly or lagging where we’ve been,” said Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeHouse GOP lawmaker breaks with party to back proxy voting House conservatives voice concerns over minority rights during remote hearings House Rules Committee approves remote voting during pandemic MORE (R-Okla.), a former NRCC chairman who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “You’ve got to tip your hat off to them, and we’ve got to do more.”

Dozens of potentially vulnerable Democrats who first won their seats in 2018 have reported been raising money at a breakneck pace; three-quarters of the DCCC’s roster of vulnerable incumbents will report raising more than $500,000 in the last three months of the year alone, far outpacing Republican challengers who are only now getting their campaigns off the ground.

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In the battle for the Senate, the most promising Democratic candidates are hauling in eye-popping sums.

Mark Kelly, the retired astronaut challenging Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Where Biden, Trump stand in key swing states Abrams announces endorsements in 7 Senate races MORE (R-Ariz.), reported raising $6.3 million in the final three months of the year, the third straight quarter Kelly has outraised McSally, who pulled in $4 million.

Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D), challenging Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBottom line The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks This week: Surveillance fight sets early test for House's proxy voting MORE (R), pulled in $3.5 million over the final quarter of the year, her campaign said Tuesday.

Former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation | Automakers fight effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards | EPA watchdog may probe agency's response to California water issues McConnell gives two vulnerable senators a boost with vote on outdoor recreation bill MORE (D) raised $2.8 million for his campaign against Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip For safety and economic recovery, Congress must prioritize cannabis banking GOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill MORE (R). Democratic candidates in South Carolina and Texas will report hauls north of a million dollars, too.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has a slight cash advantage over its Democratic counterpart. The Republican National Committee has a huge edge over the Democratic National Committee, but the Democratic presidential candidates outraised President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE and the RNC combined in the last quarter.

The Senate Majority PAC, the largest outside group backing Democratic Senate candidates, reported hauling in $61 million in 2019, while the House Majority PAC pulled in $41 million. Neither of the two largest Republican outside groups have reported their 2019 totals yet.

Some Republicans have laid blame for the party’s fundraising woes at the feet of the presidential election cycle as Trump’s campaign hauls in tens of millions of dollars. 

"You've got members that are well behind in their fundraising goals," one senior Republican lawmaker said. “I just think it's hard to do when there's so much money being sucked up by Trump, his campaign and the super PAC.” 

But others say the problem is more structural.

Those Republicans pointed to Democratic success in building donor programs that hoover up money from thousands of small-dollar donors; ActBlue, the leading online fundraising platform that Democratic candidates use, reported raising more than $1 billion for the party, its candidates and causes in 2019. Its Republican counterpart, WinRed, only launched halfway through last year.

“The real problem is the giving cultural advancements that Democrats have made with their small-dollar donors that frankly have left Republicans in the dust. It’s not uncommon to meet a middle-class Democrat who has donated 20 bucks to a couple different presidential candidates and a handful of Senate and House candidates. This donor is currently a unicorn for Republicans,” said Josh Holmes, a Republican strategist with close ties to party leaders. 

Some Republicans downplayed the seriousness of the warning delivered Tuesday. One House Republican said the meeting represented a standard “pay your dues” meeting.

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Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteLawmakers question why dead people are getting coronavirus checks Coronavirus response could be key factor in tight governor's races Poll shows Daines, Bullock neck and neck in Montana Senate race MORE (R-Mont.), who is leaving Congress to run for governor, signed over $250,000 to the NRCC in a show of solidarity. Cole handed Emmer a $15,000 check on Monday.

Republicans hope to become the first party to lose the House in a midterm and win it back in a presidential election since they reclaimed control on Dwight Eisenhower’s coattails in 1952.

“The reality is, most places across the country, we’re going to be on offense. We’re going to have to have the money to do that, and we’re clearly not there,” Cole said. “A lot depends on how the president runs. He’s pretty unorthodox and in some ways unpredictable, but it’s hard for me to see him not carrying the seats he carried last time.”

“If people believe they can take the majority back, they’re a lot more likely to do it,” he added. “We’ve got to get more members to believe that.”

Updated at 1 p.m.