Politics & Government

House conservative leader: Fulfill promises or face political danger in ‘18

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, as the 115th Congress began.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, as the 115th Congress began. AP

North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker, the chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee, plans to deliver a frank, firm message to fellow Republicans Tuesday: Time is running out to fulfill all those promises you made last year.

Start acting fast, he’s expected tell a Capitol Hill press conference, of the party could face political trouble.

“We haven’t fulfilled the very promises that we campaigned on two years ago, some longer than that,” Walker said.

He predicted that it could be “catastrophic for Republicans in Congress” if the party doesn’t make good on some of its campaign promises.

Walker and his study committee colleagues, who include about 157 of the House’s 240 Republicans, want to push the GOP majority hard to get serious about three big issues: Repealing the Affordable Care Act, passing tax reform and increasing border security.

“We’re talking about doing our job regardless of where the Senate is,” Walker said Monday night. “Some of it will be tied to specific bills we need to get out of the House, but it will be more of a higher-end view of talking to the American people from what we’ve heard from being back in the districts.”

Though House Republicans boast about the number of bills they have passed this year, they admit that the public won’t give them much credit until they approve the biggest items on their to-do list. Lawmakers have been stymied not only by disagreements, but a Senate that’s having trouble finding consensus and a White House that recently has been finding common ground with Democratic leaders.

Sixty pieces of legislation have passed both chambers and become law this year, but most were hardly the type of lawmaking that rallies Republican supporters and not the kind of results Republicans pledged to champion on the 2016 campaign trail.

Polling indicates voters are unhappy with Congress. Twenty-two percent approve of the job lawmakers are doing and 69 percent disapprove, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. A recent CNN poll found that 29 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of the Republican party, the lowest number since the network began asking the question in 1992. Republican leadership in Congress polls even worse — at 20 percent, CNN found.

That voter unrest could “manifest itself in primaries, it could manifest itself in not voting, and it could manifest itself in people saying ‘Well, listen, if you can’t it done I hear that Pelosi and Schumer are working with Trump these days, maybe we’ll go in that direction,’ ” Walker said.

President Donald Trump, frustrated by the lack of Republican progress, made a deal earlier this month with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York on a single bill that included funding for Hurricane Harvey, raising the nation’s debt limit and funding the government for three months.

The House passed a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, earlier this year, but the Senate has been unable to pass similar legislation.

Chances are it won’t anytime soon. The latest Senate effort to overhaul Obamacare appeared doomed Monday night when Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, became the third Republican to publicly oppose legislation championed by South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham and Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy.

Since Republicans control 52 of the Senate’s 100 seats, and no Democratic or independent support is expected, the GOP can only afford to lose no more than two votes. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., previously announced their opposition.

Brian Murphy: 202.383.6089; Twitter: @MurphinDC

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