GOP still divided over Speaker
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In 2014, the Republican Party successfully won over voters as it took control of the Senate and boosted support within the House of Representatives. The progress the GOP made, however, has come to a standstill as divisions within the party have severely limited what Congress can accomplish.
Now, Republican representatives must choose between supporting a speaker who goes against their core values or hold fast and continue to limit Congress’ ability.
On Sept. 26, Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation from Congress. Boehner became speaker in 2010 with much help from conservatives in the Tea Party movement. Now, many of the same conservatives who elevated him to the position are the ones who pressured him out.
The House Freedom Caucus, a group of the more conservative representatives, were the ones applying the most pressure to Boehner and other republicans in hopes of cutting spending and bringing about aggressive policy changes. The moment that likely pushed Boehner to the breaking point was the Freedom Caucus’ threats to shut down the government in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood.
Now that Boehner is out of the picture, the next step for the GOP is to decide on a replacement; a task which has proved difficult for the divided party. The most likely scenario seems to be former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
Ryan, who never campaigned for the position, has said he would assume the roll if called upon, but clearly stated several criteria that must be met. First, Ryan wants united support from GOP representatives in order to ensure that the division which occurred under Boehner wouldn’t happen again. Also, Ryan, a father of three from Wisconsin, wants to guarantee he can have specific time set aside to spend with his family.
Whether or not Ryan is able to pull the party together is largely out of his control. For Congress to be effective, conservative republicans need to decide what values and policies they’re willing to sacrifice. The Freedom Caucus’ desire to hold true to its beliefs should be commended. However, House conservatives have reached the point where they might be doing more harm than good.
Leaving the House at a stalemate doesn’t do anybody any good. The rest of the party has shown a willingness to negotiate. Now it’s up to the Freedom Caucus to step up to the table and do the same. If not, they risk hurting the GOP’s already fragile image.