Wednesday, January 14, 2015

GOP Extremists Take Another Step To Split From Conservatives


The bastion of right-wing extremism-- and some kind of sick notion of ideological "purity-- in Congress has been the Republican Study Group. That's ending. The RSG was founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich and other right-wing paranoids to keep an eye on GOP House leaders they feared would sell out to a more mainstream perspective. Although Newt Gingrich abolished it in 1995 when he became top dawg, Indiana sociopath Dan Burton started it right up again as the Conservative Action Team. When sex predator John Shadegg became chairman-- bonking another congressman's wife in their bedroom and then fist-fighting with the cuckold is apparently a conservative value-- he changed the name back to the Republican Study Group. Long an arm within the GOP conference of the NRA, The Heritage Foundation (although they broke up in 2013), Focus on the Family, and, to some extent, the Cato Institute, the RSC has 170 members and has come under the control of the Republican House leadership, which it was founded to keep an eye on!

Yesterday, Daniel Newhauser, reporting for National Journal, asserts that some of the most radical right-wing members feel the RSG is no longer sufficiently pure and they are starting a rival, more extremist group. Newhauser calls it a "mass exodus" and he expects to see the launch of the new, invitation-only, caucus as soon as next week. Jim Jordan (R-OH) seems to be in charge now but other anti-Boehner Republicans said to be leaving RSG for this new one are Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Justin Amash (R-MI), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), John Fleming (R-LA), Raúl Labrador (R-ID), and Mark Meadows (R-NC).

37 of the rebels got together Monday night and some of them met last night with their ultimate leader, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), whose chief of staff, Paul Teller, was fired from his role as RSC executive director in 2013 after provoking the ire of Paul Ryan and Boehner.
"We've had some discussions, and certainly there are several members that are concerned about the direction of the RSC and want to have an organization that reflects the diverse viewpoints of Republicans at home," said Amash, one of the members expected to leave the RSC.

The new group is a direct rebuke of RSC Chairman Bill Flores, who after he won election over Mulvaney told the press that he does not believe the RSC's core mission should be to put pressure on leadership. But the tensions go further back. Before Flores, Rep. Steve Scalise-- now the majority whip-- won election as the group's chairman over Rep. Tom Graves, whom the now-disaffected members saw as the more conservative candidate. Scalise also fired Teller, angering some members.

But Flores said Monday that he is not concerned. He said the RSC is still the only group that can not only outline policy but also influence votes on the House floor.

"I'm not too worried about it," Flores said Monday. "If you want to be part of a caucus that has the ability to move the needle, we're the ones that do that. We're the largest, most effective caucus in Congress."

The new group is separate from Amash's Libertarian-leaning group, the House Liberty Caucus, although it does include several of the same members. And unlike that group, the new one is going to be supported by dues, which will allow the members to hire a designated staff to carry out their agenda.

The members are also planning a retreat sometime in the next couple of months to lay out their next steps.

...Apart from dissatisfaction with the outcome of the races for RSC chairman, members believe the group has become too unwieldy because of its swollen size. Though it started in the 1990s with just a handful of members, the RSC swelled to more than 170 members in the 113th Congress.

On its website, the RSC is described as a place where "a minority of committed men and women without years of seniority or formal leadership positions can affect change." But with more than two-thirds of the GOP conference in the RSC-- and many of the members not playing an active role-- lawmakers who do not regularly attend the weekly group meetings hold sway over its elections and general direction.
The new group isn't likely to be a hotbed of support for Mitt Romney or Jeb Bush.

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