The chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee has caused friction among his fellow leaders this week over his plan to terminate the position and return the office funds to the Treasury Department to pay down the national debt.
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter said Thursday that he suggested the idea to phase out the committee to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) months ago. The Michigan Republican said its main purpose had been replaced by Republican solutions groups and policy shops created by other leadership offices.
“With all the talk of spending and cutting, this chance to lead by example, reform our own operations and return $360,000 to the Treasury for deficit reduction strikes me as exactly what the public wants us to start doing,” McCotter said. Taxpayer funds pay for Congressional leadership offices.
But according to McCotter, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Chief Deputy Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) balked at the idea when Boehner brought it up during the daily leadership meeting Wednesday. McCarthy, Cantor and a spokesman for Boehner declined to comment Thursday night.
“The leader has been apprised how we were winding down the committee. He gave [the committee] the final charge to put out a 20-year agenda, which we’ve done,” McCotter said, referring to the policy committee’s pamphlet titled, “We the People: Wide Awake.” “So having done what the leader asked us to do, the leader agreed that, OK, it’s time to start leading by example.’ John’s always been about that.
“I think that given time, I’m convinced that Kevin and Eric will see that this is the chance for us to show we are leading by example and do the right thing by the taxpayers,” McCotter added. “I’m sure they’ll be on board with this.”
He added, “Make sure that YouCut becomes we cut first,'” referring to Cantor’s program to cut federal spending.
The Republican Policy Committee was created by the House Republican Conference in 1949, according to the committee’s website. One GOP aide noted that a single member cannot choose to abolish the committee or to block it from elimination. Those decisions must be made by the entire House Republican Conference under the rules.
This is not the first time that McCotter has butted heads with Cantor. Last year, he was the only member of the Republican leadership in the House and Senate to opt out of the GOP whip’s National Council for a New America.
McCotter said at the time that the group, made up of House and Senate Republicans and national GOP leaders, would dilute House efforts to establish a strong GOP identity.
Members of the Conference have quietly criticized McCotter during his tenure for not doing enough with the policy committee. He rejected the notion Thursday, saying the committee’s existence is just no longer necessary.
“You’ve got a man saying that the job has fulfilled its mission, you have the document and the people who like it and have shown it,” McCotter said. “The job is already done. If I just wanted to sit around doing nothing, I’d keep the committee.”