The Veteran Caucus of the House GOP Says, 'It's Time to Get to Work on the Mission'

Rep. Mike Garcia Addresses the Press Corps re. Speaker Obstruction. Credit: CSPAN Now Press Conference of Elected Representative Combat Veterans

A group of 18 combat veterans who have served America in the various branches of the military, and who have extended their service to the nation as GOP members of the United States House of Representatives, mounted a press conference on Wednesday to speak out against the continued obstructionism to electing GOP Leader and Speaker nominee Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker of the House.


Representative-elect Mike Waltz led the group, which also consisted of: Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin, Mike Gallagher of Indiana, Corey Mills of Florida, Rich McCormick of Georgia, Mike Garcia of California, Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Mike Bost of Illinois, John James of Michigan, Scott Franklin of Florida, Trent Kelly of Mississippi, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, and Brad Wenstrup of Ohio.

Elected GOP Representatives Take the Stage to Call for a Vote. Credit: CSPAN Now Press Conference of Elected Representative Combat Veterans


It was an interesting flex, as each speaker focused on their duty as elected representatives as “a mission,” and that as long as the House remains without a Speaker, that they cannot fulfill the mission they have been assigned by the American people.

“They know what it means to be on a team, they know what it means to sacrifice,” Waltz said.

“They know that there are more men and women overseas right now putting their lives on the line for this republic than the entire British, Canadian, and Australian military combined. And they know what it means to be worthy and conduct themselves in a way that is worthy of the sacrifices for the men and women we couldn’t bring home or who came home literally missing limbs, and forever altered upstairs.”

“So, I’m going to hand off in just a moment to get their perspective on what this means to us.”

Waltz first read news bites from authoritarian regimes in China, North Korea, Iran, and all over the world who, in his words,


“are pointing to what’s going on in the House of Representatives and saying look at the messiness of democracy, look at how it doesn’t work, how it cannot function, and in contrast to their authoritarian regimes.”

In terms of optics, their solidarity was a good look, and compelling. The statements Waltz read–from foreign newspapers reflecting how the battle in the House of Representatives appeared to them–was not.

Waltz then passed the floor to Derrick Van Orden, who said,

“We [the people on the stage] have 291 years of collective military service. We’ve spent years and years away from our home serving our country proudly.

“This is my uniform now. And I plan on service to the people of the United States of America. We are trying to make sure we can do the people’s will.”

Van Orden concluded that the obstructionism has,

“actually become detrimental to our nation. And I will not stand for it.”

The consensus among this group of veteran members-elect is that the 20 obstructionist do not represent the majority of the House, yet they are setting the agenda, and thwarting the mission. Newly elected Georgia Rep. Rich McCormick said,

“Some people think that their way is the only way, and that’s not collectively how we represent.”

Texas’ Dan Crenshaw focused once again on the “mission” they were tasked with, and that this is what the American people really care about.

“We can’t start that agenda until we start governing.”


John James also spoke in these terms.

“There are 80 veterans in this Congress. Sixty-two GOP and the rest, Democrats. Right now, we are hamstrung from doing our mission for the American people.

“We need to come together and recognize to put mission first, and people always.”

The elected reps continued the “mission” framing–and the obstructionism being waged by the 20 Republicans holding up the nomination–as a deterrent to that mission being accomplished. Florida’s Corey Mills talked about the 13 Gold Star families who cannot get closure from the botched Afghanistan withdrawal because he cannot be sworn in and the committees cannot be formed.

“The American people care about those 13 Gold Star members.[…] This is something that should be important to all 334 million Americans. It’s not Democrat or Republican. This is not about one speaker or the other. It’s about getting answers and getting oversight and holding those accountable who are responsible for the deaths of real Americans.”

Mike Bost was honored to stand with the combat veterans and stressed that he was a veteran, but not a combat one. Bost further stressed that any help the veterans so desperately need is on hold until a Speaker is elected.

“We cannot organize or conduct our oversight, we cannot hold Biden VA accountable, we cannot do our job to ensure we give our veterans what they are due.

“We can’t stop this administration, and do our job of oversight given to us in the Constitution, until we have a speaker. It affects every one of them that is served in the past.”


Mike Gallagher of Indiana spoke about not being able to meet in the SCIFF (“Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility”) to conduct official business as part of the Intelligence Committee because he does not have the security clearance. A clearance he cannot receive until he is officially sworn in.

“We have work to do that we cannot do right now. It’s up to this Congress to restore deterrence, to restore peace through strength. But we are not able to do this vital work until we actually get past the Speaker vote, populate our committees and start this vital work,” he said.

Mike Garcia of California spoke about the weeks of negotiations that have already gone into 22 changes to the House rules package. Changes that were a direct result of meetings with the 20 representatives still holding out for more.

“We have gone through those processes and protocols. Now we are asking everyone to honor that and go forward with the election,” Garcia said.

In terms of Matt Gaetz of Florida’s role in leading the obstruction, Waltz had this to say,

“There are negotiations, and there is holding the rest of the conference hostage. We are not getting anything specifically back from the obstructionists. Each side is digging their trenches deeper, and that’s a disservice to those men and women in the trenches overseas, and the American people who have elected us.

“We are losing more people from Fentanyl crossing our Southern border than we have in Vietnam. We’ve got work to do. We’re wasting time, and the American public deserves better.”


Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa helped conclude the representative statements by asking the American people to,

“Give us that trust. That we think he [Kevin McCarthy] is the best person to be the speaker at this time.”

During questioning, Waltz concluded,

“We’re the party of competition. We’re the party of merits. We’re not the party of quotas, not holding 201 elected members hostage. There’s moving the country forward and moving the party forward. When you start getting into personal agendas, that’s where you draw the line.”

John James said it most succinctly:

“We have a common vision, to put service before self. And we can’t do that if there are people in our own conference who are putting self before service.”


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