The conservative House Freedom Caucus was the first faction to start pushing leadership to expand diversity on the House Republican Steering Committee, but it was the center-right Tuesday Group that ended up winning the lion’s share of the influential panel’s six open seats .
It’s a modest but significant victory for moderates who want to show their far-right colleagues in the GOP Conference they, too, are capable of coalition-building and exerting influence. Reps. Susan W. Brooks, R-Ind., and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., were the official Tuesday Group candidates, receiving 42 and 30 votes, respectively. That makes them the first and third highest vote-earners of the 11 contenders vying to serve on the panel for the rest of the 114th Congress. The committee doles out committee assignments to colleagues.
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Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., recently overhauled the committee to spread influence around the conference. That resulted in several committee chairmen, like Upton, losing their spots.
Brooks, the only woman running for a Steering slot, and Upton, were selected as the Tuesday Group representatives for their conference-wide appeal, according to a source familiar with discussions leading up to Thursday’s vote.
According to the source, the Tuesday Group was so confident about Brooks’ and Upton’s chances they encouraged colleagues to vote for two other contenders with broad appeal: Reps. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala.
Cole, also a member of the Steering Committee until last month, received 28 votes, and Rogers received 26.
The Main Street Partnership, an outside organization that works for center-right Republicans on Capitol Hill, took a victory lap in celebration of the elections of Brooks and Upton.
“The members of the House Republican Conference clearly want governing Republicans at the leadership table,” Main Street Partnership President Sarah Chamberlain said in a statement. “I’m pleased the Conference has rewarded our contributions to their historic majority with seats on the steering committee.”
The other two winners for the at-large seats were Reps. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., and Jason Smith, R-Mo., receiving 33 and 24 votes, respectively.
Huelskamp, also the chairman of the Tea Party Caucus, is the only member of the House Freedom Caucus to win a Steering seat. Reps. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., and Steve Pearce, R-N.M., were also up for consideration, but were not among the top vote-earners. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., another Freedom caucuser, was to be in the running on Thursday but dropped out in advance of the vote.
“It’s a big victory for conservatives in the fact we have at-large positions at all,” Huelskamp said. “We wanted to make sure we had one position on the Steering Committee, adding, “I think it shows the Republican Conference is listening to the conservative wing of the party when you put someone like me on the Steering Committee.”
The other Republicans running for at-large posts who fell short were Reps. Darrell Issa of California and John Culberson of Texas.
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