With November’s midterm elections looming large, much speculation
has centered around whether Republicans will be able to maintain control of the House and Senate. If Republicans do manage to hang on to their majority in the House, questions still remain. Who will fill the gap in GOP leadership left by Paul Ryan
? And who will step up to ensure that the Republicans have a more successful term than the last?
Speaker is without doubt an important position, but other Republican leadership roles also play a pivotal part in pressing forward conservative policies. In particular, the role of Republican Policy Committee Chairman is key for the development of a successful legislative agenda. The head of the Republican Policy Committee does not get much attention, but it’s a critical job. The Chairman has significant influence on which issues garner focus, and the bills being drafted. Whoever fills Paul Ryan’s shoes will need the support of a capable Policy Committee Chairman.
One rising star who could be a leading contender for this position is Alabama Congressman Gary Palmer. Although largely a behind the scenes character, Palmer has managed to advance impressively far up the Congressional pecking order in only 4 years. The representative from Alabama’s 6th district is currently the Vice Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and also sits on the House Budget Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Prior to his election in 2014, Palmer had never held an elected office, but this is not to say that he did not have extensive experience. Palmer served as President of the Alabama Policy Institute for 24 years, a think-tank that he helped found. During his tenure, the Alabama Policy Institute became the premier conservative think-tank in Alabama, focusing on a wide range of policy issues. Palmer was also a founding member of the board of directors of the State Policy Network, an umbrella organization for a number of state-based think-tanks. Leading this organization exposed Palmer to nationwide policy issues.
Palmer’s experience with these think-tanks makes him an ideal choice for Policy Committee Chairman, as he has wide-ranging knowledge of the issues and many years’ experience drafting policy proposals. If Republicans maintain control in 2018, the party will face challenges moving forward and will be pressured to make policy strides. The GOP needs to come up with plausible alternatives to the ACA that protect people’s preexisting conditions but also allow for competition to lower costs. Palmer has knowledge of state plans that have been successful, like the system in Maine, and would be capable of applying this knowledge to the development of a new healthcare bill. There should also be focus on deregulation so that GDP can grow substantially at 4% each quarter and all Americans can benefit. To achieve this goal, Congress needs a fiscal hawk on the Policy Committee, who will deny every excessive spending bill regardless of whether it is from the left or right. Palmer would be such a hawk.
In addition to his vast policy experience, Palmer is a man of upstanding character. He has a solid relationship with Ryan, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, both of whom respect Palmer’s wisdom and insight. At a recent event in Birmingham, Alabama, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy endorsed Palmer, praising his commitment to bettering laws for the nation. Gowdy said that every time he saw Palmer coming on Capitol Hill he knew something important was on Palmer’s mind. Palmer has the trust of Gowdy and other Congressman because he’s loyal, he knows how to get things done, and he’s not there to score political points — he’s there to help the American people.
Palmer is also committed to mentoring young Congressmen, and improving the actions of Congress as a whole. He genuinely loves teaching and bettering those around him, and understands the value in treating people well. As a member of the Freedom Caucus Palmer is a strong conservative, but he makes a point of speaking to politicians from both sides of the aisle and listening to their points of view. Palmer makes an effort to base his policy opinions on facts, rather than strictly following the party line.
If the GOP keeps its majority in the House, the contest for Speaker will be the main focus. Palmer does not get much media attention now, and he would not get much more if he were to be elected Policy Committee Chairman. But, whoever assumes that position will have a real impact on important legislation, perhaps more so than even Speaker of the House. If Palmer were to be elected Republican Policy Chairman, there would be no doubt that good, solid conservative policies would come out of Washington.
Christopher Reid is an attorney out of Birmingham who owns his own general practice law firm, which handles Business, Family, and Probate Law and high-end litigation throughout the state of Alabama. Reid has held various policy positions, including working for the Alabama Policy Institute and the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C., where he also worked for House Republican Whip Roy Blunt. In law school, he clerked for the Alabama Attorney General Office, and, after graduation, he became Health and Judiciary Policy Analyst for Alabama’s governor. His charitable work includes serving on the board of Sav-A-Life. Chris is a frequent co-host on The Scott Beason Show in Birmingham, writes political and legal commentary for publications including The Hill, The Washington Examiner, and has been quoted in The New Yorker. He regularly provides on-air expertise and political commentary for TV news shows on Fox, NBC, and Newsmax with JD Hayworth. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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