Conservatives Stalk Congress

COMMENTARY Political Process

Conservatives Stalk Congress

Mar 13, 2012 3 min read

Policy Analyst

As senior fellow in government studies at The Heritage Foundation, Brian Darling...

In 1983, Ed Feulner, president of The Heritage Foundation, published Conservatives Stalk the House, detailing the history of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) from its founding in the early ’70s. It’s a story of a small band of conservative House members who believed they could better advance conservatism by establishing a new committee composed of conservative members.

Today, the RSC is lead by Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). The Senate also has a similar group of conservatives who fight the big-government ideas of both parties: the Senate Steering Committee. The Steering Committee was also founded in the early 1970s as a non-partisan place for conservatives to network. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has led the Steering Committee since January 2007.

Now there are new factions in the House and Senate: the small Tea Party Caucuses, led in the House by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). The RSC, Steering Committee and Tea Party Caucus are populated with members who “stalk” Congress to move policy toward the principles of limited government, individual freedom, free markets, traditional family values and a strong national defense.

Senate tea party—DeMint, Paul, Lee

The Senate tea party has been active this year.

Tea party Senators DeMint and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have introduced the Energy Freedom & Economic Prosperity Act. The legislation eliminates tax credits for renewable and conventional energy alike and would save the American taxpayer an estimated $90 billion in corporate welfare. This bill also reduces the corporate tax rate, which would make it a win-win for those who believe in ending the kind of social engineering that has lead to Solyndra, Government Motors, and the failed Chevy Volt experiment.

Sen. Paul has written up a platform for America with his own budget for Fiscal Year 2013. It complies with the requirement in the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution by establishing balance in five years.

The Paul budget would save taxpayers a staggering $8 trillion over the next decade. The plan terminates the Departments of Commerce, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Energy and privatizes the Transportation Security Administration.

House Republican Study Committee

In the House, some young leaders have emerged such as Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.).

The House is working through the process of crafting a budget under the leadership of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Congressional Quarterly reports that support is building with Republicans to cap discretionary spending at $1.028 trillion. Rep. Mulvaney told CQ that if “you get a number low enough, and you’ll get conservatives with you.” The Tea Party faction in the House is aiding the Republican leaders to cut discretionary spending levels by $19 billion.

Rep. Amash has led the fight for transparency by posting explanations of every vote on his website. Rep. Walsh has taking up the fight to limit House members to three terms and senators to two terms .

Highway bill gridlock

The House and Senate are having a difficult time passing a highway bill before the March 31 deadline to reauthorize programs and taxes. Speaker John Boehner wants to get a five-year, $260 billion bill passed. Yet he is facing resistance from his big-spender caucus, which wants to retain the mandate that 20 percent of highway trust funds be dedicated to public transportation, and conservatives, who want to cut the funding levels.

The Senate is working through a two-year, $109 billion version of the bill that is in the process of being loaded up with liberal projects and ideas. One section would kill private competition to Amtrak. Amtrak is averaging losses of more than $1 billion a year as they set records for ridership. Leaders on the Senate Commerce Committee snuck in a provision that would set up a new regulatory licensing regime to kill any competition for Amtrak.

Export-Import Bank

The Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) of the United States has long faced objections from some conservatives. President Obama has not only requested that Congress reauthorize this government-run “bank,” but has requested that it increase its lending to $140 billion in total authority.

The Ex-Im Bank purportedly helps the economy by creating jobs in our nation’s export sector. The free-market objection to this government entity is that the Ex-Im Bank is a government subsidy to certain companies favored by the federal government—one that picks private-sector winners and losers.

Brian H. Darling is a senior fellow at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation.

First appeared in Human Events