From a release out of Rep. Steve Scalise’s office this afternoon…
A majority of conservatives in the Republican Study Committee voted today to elect Congressman Steve Scalise (LA-01) to serve as the Chairman of the RSC in the 113th Congress.
“The Republican Study Committee is the conservative conscience of the House, and I’m humbled and honored to be chosen as the RSC’s leader for the 113th Congress,” Scalise said. “The American people chose the Republican House to serve as the only line of defense against Barack Obama’s liberal agenda, and the RSC must stand tall as the conservative rudder, steering the House towards more conservative solutions as we work to get our country back on the right track. We must unite as conservatives around our shared beliefs of economic opportunity for all Americans through lower taxes, controlled Washington spending, and more individual freedom.
“I want to thank Tom Graves for running a strong campaign. Tom is a valuable member of the RSC and we will continue to lean upon his passion for our Constitutional principles as we unite as conservatives to move our country forward.
“Our mission for the 113th Congress is clear. We must protect the American Dream for future generations by working to pass conservative solutions to the many problems facing our nation. The stakes are too high and the consequences too grave for us to fail at this mission. Our nation has overcome countless hurdles and hardships to become the beacon of freedom for the rest of the world. We cannot let that light fade on our watch, and I will work every day with all our RSC Members to ensure that the American dream is preserved and strengthened for future generations.”
With more than 160 members, the Republican Study Committee is the largest multi-issue caucus in the House Republican conference.
Scalise winning this one is a pretty big deal for the Louisiana House Delegation, as the RSC is the pre-eminent collection of conservatives in Congress. And Scalise, as one of the most conservative members in the House and as it happens one of the more aggressive congressmen on the GOP side, has the makings of a star atop the RSC.
His victory didn’t come without opposition, though. Just yesterday, RedState’s Erick Erickson took a poke at Scalise and intimated he would be the death of the RSC…
Ultimately in this race, I must side with Tom Graves. Steve Scalise has signaled he will weaken the Republican Study Committee. It is telling that all prior chairmen of the RSC are supporting Tom Graves. I have no doubt that Scalise is a good and honorable man, but if the RSC had not repeatedly fought tough fights against the GOP these past two years under Jim Jordan, we’d be in a far worse position that we are now as a nation. Had the RSC not revolted, John Boehner would have had his tax increase deal with Barack Obama in 2011.
Congressman Scalise wants to reposition the Republican Study Committee because it “has veered too far from its roots and does not effectively work with leadership to get things done.”He laments that the RSC is a group “whose positions are dictated from the top” rather than being a ““Member-driven organization.”
He’s absolutely right on that and it would be a horrible idea to go with Scalise’s approach.
The Republican Study Committee these days lets in any Republican. There is no litmus test. Consequently, the RSC is filled with some of the squishiest Republicans in all of America, but they hide behind their membership to claim conservative bona fides with stupid beltway reporters and folks back home who are not paying full attention. If Steve Scalise has his way, these squishy Republicans will direct the RSC.
We almost got a taste of that these past two years. RSC members revolted because the RSC — bless its heart — actually stood up to House Leaders trying to sell out their own Pledge to Nowhere. It happened repeatedly. The bulk of the RSC members stood with House Leaders and the RSC leadership held the line for conservatives.
I am fearful Congressman Scalise’s approach and his willingness to signal he wants to work with leadership would be the death of an organized conservative voice in the House, though I have no doubt a new one would be started.
But Erickson’s opinion differed with that of the American Spectator’s Quin Hillyer…
When I spoke to Scalise by phone last week, he emphasized both philosophy and practical politics. “The strategy of the RSC,” he said, “should be to figure out what is the most conservative product we can actually achieve. Our first objective should be to serve as the conservative conscience of House Republicans, but we also need to actually advance the conservative agenda. We need to actually focus on implementing conservative solutions.”
Scalise’s history of refusing to let go of a principled stand goes back well before his election to Congress. Back in 2000, he was only one of two Republicans in the Louisiana Legislature to “vocally oppose” a tax-reform plan pushed by Republican Gov. Mike Foster that would have raised more taxes than it cut. The so-called “Stelly Plan” passed, but Scalise kept fighting, and eight years later one of the last votes he cast there before moving on to Congress was on a bill to repeal the Stelly Plan — a repeal bill that Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law.
“The one thing I have always liked about Steve is that he’s not one thing one day and another thing another day,” said C.B. Forgotston, an attorney and former chief counsel to Louisiana’s House Appropriations committee who runs a prominent conservative website in the Bayou State that regularly blasts state legislators of both parties for big spending and questionable ethics. “Steve is like that in principle, and he’s like that with how he treats people, too.… He’s been steadfastly consistent, and he has the courage of his convictions. He doesn’t have Potomac Fever. When he comes home and you run into him on the street, he’s just the same Steve.”
Or, as I wrote at this site in 2008, Scalise is, and remains, “the real deal.”
It will be interesting to see whether Scalise will preside over an RSC that “waters down” its positions, or if his emphasis on practicality builds the power and the influence of the RSC such that it drives the House overall.
Either way, Louisiana won a victory today with Scalise’s ascension.