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These Eight Republicans Could Save the Conference From Breaking

Price, left and Ryan are longtime allies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Price, left and Ryan are longtime allies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Paul D. Ryan was pushed to run for speaker because members believed he could unite House Republicans, but he will share some of that responsibility with some select colleagues.  

The Wisconsin Republican has tapped eight members to serve on an “advisory group” that will meet regularly to discuss House matters and serve as Ryan’s sounding board for leadership ideas. The group, according to names obtained by CQ Roll Call, includes two members from each of the three main Republican voting blocs — as well as two of Ryan’s closest allies. “Speaker Ryan believes the conference is strongest when it’s unified,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “To have a more inclusive speakership, he has pulled together a group of members representing the major Republican caucuses.”  

These members are effectively responsible for saving the Republican Conference from spinning into disarray.  

Tuesday Group representatives Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Robert J. Dold of Illinois: As the head of the moderate Republican faction, Dent has been an outspoken critic of far-right members who have prioritized political messaging over passing legislation, especially on critical matters such as government funding. Dent is known for working across the aisle, partnering New Democrat Coalition leader Ron Kind.  

Dold also has demonstrated a willingness to work with Democrats. He helped build GOP support for the Export-Import Bank discharge petition. Dold faces another tough re-election race next year. He was first elected in 2010, lost his seat in 2012 but regained it in 2014. Dold and Dent, also members of the Main Street Partnership, broke from the GOP conference earlier this year and voted against a measure to defund Planned Parenthood.  

House Freedom Caucus representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina:  Jordan, who was re-elected this week as chairman of the Freedom Caucus , spoke favorably of Ryan as speaker even before he was a candidate for the post. Jordan was likely instrumental in the HFC’s decision to support Ryan. But Jordan is no friend of the Obama administration and has been a leading critic of its handling of the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the IRS tea party targeting scandal.  

Mulvaney, who helped found the Freedom Caucus, is passionate about fiscal issues and criticizes his own party for failing to rein in federal spending. On immigration, Mulvaney is not aligned with hard-line conservatives and supports a path to legal status for immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally.  

Republican Study Committee representatives Bill Flores of Texas and Kristi Noem of South Dakota:  It makes sense the leader of the RSC would have a seat on Ryan’s advisory board, and Flores is respected by many of his colleagues. He even considered running for speaker before Ryan stepped up.  

Noem, who was named senior deputy whip in 2014, is considered a valued voice in the conference. She’s known for working hard, eschewing the spotlight and offering her perspective as a female Republican. Ryan worked with Noem on the Ways and Means Committee.  

Flores and Noem represent the largest House Republican contingent that’s become more amenable to working within the system.  

Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia: Both lawmakers are kindred spirits to Ryan: conservative institutionalists and committee chairmen who care about the legislative process and harbor leadership ambitions. Ryan promised as speaker to facilitate changes to the powerful Steering Committee, which would result in Hensarling and Price being booted from the panel. Naming these two members on his advisory board will help ensure Ryan that his confidants are still close at hand. Hensarling and Price are also members of the RSC.

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