Here at the Madison Project, we are avid fans of the Republican Study Committee (RSC). Not enough can be said of the vital work they do for conservatives inside Congress.
The RSC is the caucus of House conservatives who stand on principle fighting bad policies and promoting conservative policies, irrespective of the legislation put forth by Republican leadership. While there are officially 164 members of the RSC, many of them are just members in name only – a façade to offer them conservative cover for their lack of conservative principles. However, the core 60-80 members along with the RSC staff serve as the beacon of limited government thought for the minority of true conservative on Capitol Hill.
Not only do they serve as an anchor for the conservative members within Congress, they provide Tea Party outsiders with friends who are willing to push our agenda on the inside. We are very proud to work closely with them on legislation.
It goes without saying that the chairman of the RSC – who typically serves for two years – plays a critical role in standing up for conservatives within the party against all establishment forces. The role of RSC Chair is even more critical when Republicans control the House than when they are in the minority. During such times, the RSC Chair has to take a leadership role in opposing bad policies proposed by fellow party members.
At present, this position is held by Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan. Jordan has done a superb job of standing tall for our promises and leading the charge against leadership when necessary. He stood as the bulwark against John Boehner’s debt ceiling capitulation from beginning to end. This is no small feat considering the fact that Jordan hails from the same state as the party leader.
Yesterday, the founding members and the former leaders of the RSC met in a closed door meeting to choose Jordan’s successor. They could not have picked a better choice in Georgia Rep. Tom Graves.
Candidates for RSC chair are interviewed by the founding members (Sam Johnson and Dan Burton are the only ones left) and the former chairmen (Reps. Mike Pence of Indiana, Tom Price of Georgia, Sue Myrick of North Carolina, Jeb Hensarling of Texas, and Jim Jordan of Ohio). In this case, three members – Reps. Joe Barton, Steve Scalise, and Tom Graves threw their hats into the ring. Thankfully, the panel endorsed Graves.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Tom Graves is among the 5 or so members (out of 435) who have the most conservative voting record. He tops our Hall of Fame at the Madison Performance Index. He has never voted against a single spending cut amendment in 2011 or 2012. He is a leader in the move to devolve highway and infrastructure spending to the states.
He once described his governing philosophy like this: ”I make decisions as if I’m not coming back. I’m casting votes in the purest form I can with no assumptions of gaming out the political future, and I think as more members make more decisions like that, we will drive towards better policies.”
Tom Graves is exactly who we need to lead conservatives in Congress during the 113th Congress – a tumultuous time irrespective of who win the election. There’s an added bonus that Tom Graves serves on the Appropriations Committee. He will have the opportunity to take the RSC message straight to the belly of the beast.
Steve Scalise’s record is mediocre and Joe Barton is not a full conservative. Either one can still force a vote by the full membership if they petition 20% of the body for such a vote. This is a leadership role that we cannot get wrong. We’ll keep you posted if Scalise or Barton attempt to make a run for it. But for now, we’re elated that our top performer will become conservative leader in the next Congress.
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