Lead by Example: Abolish the Republican House Policy Committee
Leader Boehner often asks us the question: “If we get the majority back, what will we do differently.”
The public is asking us, too.
With the national debt at $13 trillion, everywhere we turn, the public is outraged at the Democrat majority’s obscene spending; and is concerned that the Republican minority has not learned its lesson regarding its past spending practices.
Only deeds, not words, can truly redeem us in Americans’ eyes; however, in the minority we have few opportunities to reduce government spending, due to the Democrat majority. Thus, the conundrum is how we as a minority can prove to the public we will make the necessary, difficult decisions if again entrusted with a Congressional majority. The answer is to first cut government spending on ourselves, for we will either lead by example or lose the public’s trust.
Thus, the Republican House Policy Committee (RHPC) must be abolished; its budget dedicated to deficit reduction; and the Democrats challenged to match our example.
This proposition is not new. In fact, it was one of the options laid out during my candidacy for RHPC Chair, and it has continued to the present. Early this Congress, as part of the “entrepreneurial minority” strategy, the Leader assigned the RHPC the task of identifying and addressing the long-term challenges confronting America. Honoring the Leader’s request, the RHPC produced We the People: Wide Awake for Our Newest Birth of Freedom. It is the most widely read RHPC document in the committee’s history.
While fulfilling this charge, I have also systematically wound down the RHPC for the following reasons:
At a time of intense public distrust of Congress and anger over trillion dollar deficits, a roughly $360,000 “advisory committee” that “shall discuss legislative proposals” and “shall report its suggestions” (see Conference Rule 22) that has already fulfilled the Leader’s charge is a luxury taxpayers can no longer afford.
The RHPC is precluded by its very nature from passing legislation, which must be done through – and rightly so – the existing leadership, ranking members and their committees; thus, the RHPC constitutes a superfluous step in the legislative process.
Indeed, every leadership and ranking member’s office and caucus already has a policy shop; consequently, as noted above, the RHPC is redundant.
The prescribed duties of the RHPC can be and have been performed by members through their respective offices, committees, caucuses, the Conference, the Whip’s office, and/or on the Leader’s working groups.
Members who covet their status as RHPC members can be channeled by the Leader into his designated working groups, which have employed existing staff resources and proven quite successful.
By cutting ourselves first, our voting to eliminate the RHPC and to dedicate the savings for deficit reduction through an appropriations amendment will provide the public with compelling evidence GOP members are committed to cutting government spending.
If we fail to eliminate the RHPC, how can we credibly ask Americans to sacrifice for deficit and debt reduction when we will not first cut ourselves?
Granted the novelty of a current occupant of a leadership position calling for the elimination of the post and its funding will stun some observers. But, as the Leader has stated, this is only the first of many reforms necessary to again earn Americans’ trust that we can govern responsibly, effectively, and accountably.
The doubters say we will not eliminate the RHPC. They claim all Washington politicians care about is their titles, power and taxpayer provided perks. But per my conversation with Leader Boehner last week, I have no doubt that with his and your leadership we will prove these doubters wrong.
We will lead by example; cut GOP spending first; and continue regaining Americans’ trust.
Thaddeus G. McCotter
U.S. Representative (MI-11)