Diary

Unless Jordan/Hensarling reverse course, stick with Webster. No Paul Ryan.

Two names consistently pop up among serious conservatives who want to snatch the Speakership away from Boehner & Co.  And after Boehner’s latest ploy of postponing the election, conservatives need to be more serious than ever.

[mc_name name=’Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000566′ ] is not one of the names. I am speaking of [mc_name name=’Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’H001036′ ] and [mc_name name=’Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’J000289′ ]. Both are former chairmen of the Republican Study Committee and thus popular with a broad swath of the conference. Currently, Hensarling heads up House Financial Services Committee and Jordan is in charge of the new and influential House Freedom Caucus. Both are solid conservatives, fighters, and excellent communicators.

But both Hensarling and Jordan have repeatedly turned down opportunities to run. Of course, they could always change their mind. If they don’t, the House Freedom Caucus should stick with who they just endorsed for Speaker: [mc_name name=’Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’W000806′ ] of Florida.

Webster is not the most conservative guy out there (nor is he a liberal). But he is fiercely anti-establishment. Recall that he ran against Boehner in the last round of elections, garnering 12 votes. His mission is to restore the House to regular order.

And really, the issue with leadership isn’t their conservative credentials. As House Liberty Caucus chairman [mc_name name=’Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’A000367′ ] notes in his recent CNN article:

It’s not that Speaker Boehner isn’t conservative enough; it’s that he fundamentally misunderstands the role of speaker of the House of Representatives. The speaker’s first priority must be to defend the institution on behalf of all Americans. While the speaker may have a role in policy debates, that role cannot trump his obligation to uphold House process.

By not keeping these priorities, Speaker Boehner has failed both as a policy leader and as an institutional leader.

Speaker Boehner and other Republican leaders have repeatedly favored a “govern by crisis” approach that abandons the regular order of the House. Despite having months to act before legislative deadlines, leaders routinely wait until the last moment to plot a course of action, publicly concede in advance major negotiating points, insist that Republicans have no alternatives, refuse to allow amendments and then criticize colleagues for not voting to avert the crisis leadership caused.

This approach produces constant frustration among representatives in both parties and promotes the partisan finger-pointing that angers Americans at home. Instead of making bipartisan compromises to address long-term issues, Congress constructs desperate, last-minute political deals to obtain the requisite votes simply to clear the immediate impasse.

In place of genuine reforms, Republican leaders inundate the public with meaningless show votes. These bills and amendments are often poorly drafted and not intended to become law, but rather to give representatives talking points to bash the other side in the media and in our districts.

In this system, leaders make little effort to persuade congressional colleagues — or the public — on the merits of particular legislation. Significant outcomes are predetermined by a few leaders and their close allies, often with the backing of special interests that help write the bills. House rules, adopted by the entire body on the first day of each Congress, are regularly waived to bypass procedural hurdles. Votes for passage of legislation are corralled through fear and intimidation.

Republicans who vote against the wishes of leadership are punished — leaders bury our bills in committee and urge PACs not to fund our campaigns. Leadership surrogates verbally attack Republican colleagues and, in some cases, actively support primary challenges against them, as they did against me in 2014.

Speaker Boehner and other leaders perpetuate the pay-to-play culture that permeates Capitol Hill, awarding chairmanships and committee spots on the basis of party fundraising, or as they euphemistically call it, “doing your work across the street” at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

With few legislative accomplishments to win public support, leaders depend on high-dollar fundraising to protect their majority and stay in power, and rank-and-file Republicans face increasing pressure to spend their days filling campaign coffers. At late-night conference meetings dealing with the latest legislative crisis, some members even lament that their time would be better spent raising campaign money.

Webster is relatively new to Congress, elected in 2010, but he is certainly qualified for the job. In fact, he may be the most qualified for the job. He was once Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and went on to have a long career in the State Senate. Webster knows how parliamentary procedure is supposed to work and will abide by it. He understands the need for an leader, but one who cares more about administrative duties than imposing his will through executive bullying. In other words, the role of the Speaker would be minimized. Most believe he is a good and honest man, as opposed to current leadership which relies on deceit and threats.

But I am afraid that conservatives may be tempted to back [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ] if he changes his mind and runs for Speaker. Credible reporter Robert Costa has made known that Boehner is working hard to convince Ryan to run, seeing him as the only viable candidate.

First, I want to remind people that Ryan is not a conservative, even though he may talk like one. I won’t waste time going down the laundry list of horrible votes. But since I acknowledged that Webster isn’t exactly conservative either, why does that matter?

It matters because Ryan’s appeal from the perspective of Boehner is that members will hold their noses for Ryan because of his conservative perception. Boehner is hoping that conservatives will roll the dice on Ryan because even though he is part of the establishment, he just might govern better.

Nonsense. If Boehner wants him, he cannot be good. Ryan is not a conservative and would not govern as one. As part of the establishment, Ryan would not restore regular order.

Lost in all of the chaos is the fact that not too long ago, Ryan, Cantor, and McCarthy were being dubbed “young guns” and the successors to Boehner’s generation.

Dave Brat kicked Eric Cantor out of the equation. [mc_name name=’Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001165′ ] kicked himself out of the equation. What a disaster it would be if [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ] were able to save the day and restore the establishment dream.