The Republican Study Committee (RSC), perhaps the most powerful outpost for conservatives in the House, is struggling because of conflict among its 170 members. One side believes the RSC has overdone it in terms of establishing a conservative orthodoxy, and the other side maintains that the group has too many moderates, Politico
Since its inception 38 years ago, the RSC has served as a think tank for conservative policy ideas and a conservative pressure valve to apply to the GOP’s House leadership.
At least three members of Congress have left the group in recent months, which is an abnormal occurrence. Several others are contemplating leaving and are expressing their dissatisfaction publicly with the way Chairman Jim Jordan is running the group.
The RSC regularly has opposed the House leadership on budget policy, and some members complain that Jordan and his associates set RSC policy without consulting them.
The struggle reflects a larger battle in the Republican Party between conservatives who want to push the GOP further to the right and moderates. One of the departed group members, Alabama Rep. Jo Bonner, told Politico he’ll “be damned if I am going to sit by and watch our members fight against each other.”
Freshman Florida Rep. Allen West, who is a member of the RSC and has no plans to leave, notes the conflict in descriptive terms: “There’s a bit of an überconservative environment that’s going on, and we can’t continue to shoot ourselves in the foot or have what I call a circular firing squad.”
Jordan is unbowed by the criticism. He told Politico that dropouts and discontent aren’t surprising in a group of 170 politicians. And he said the proof is in result that the RSC has helped push the House leadership to more conservative positions.
“I would look where the conference has been most unified . . . where the RSC is pushing for certain positions,” Jordan said.
The grumbling began in a Republican conference meeting during the debt ceiling debate this summer, when RSC members found out that the group’s staffers were encouraging outside conservative groups to target its own members to spike House Speaker John Boehner’s debt plan.
Florida Rep. Tom Rooney wrote a letter during the summer berating the RSC as “intolerant and short-sighted.” He no longer goes to its meetings. “We’re continuing to fire inside the tent,” Rooney told Politico.
RSC founders have discussed its problems twice in recent months. Jordan offered an amendment to the committee’s bylaws to codify the process for the group to choose its policy stances. The RSC leadership dismissed the idea.
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