Some veteran Republican House members are pushing back against conservative deficit hawks who are pushing for endlessly deep spending cuts, saying the right wing of the party is creating unnecessary divisions for the GOP majority.In Missouri we've seen some dithering on conservative issues in the legislature, so I'm not surprised that "veteran Republican House members are pushing back" in Congress. The key word there is "veteran".
While the 54 Republicans who voted against the most recent stopgap spending bill didn’t derail the legislation, some GOP lawmakers are becoming increasingly wary of a faction that rejects substantial spending cuts because they want deeper ones or the inclusion of divisive social policy riders.
Here's my theory of what's happening in Washington, DC, as well as Jefferson City, MO, and probably other state houses around the country. Tea Partiers put a lot of effort into getting fiscal conservatives elected. That new blood in state legislatures as well as in Congress mostly entered as freshmen. Leadership positions are filled by people with experience, veterans. There's not much overlap between the set of veteran legislators and the set of Tea Party legislators; therefore, we've gotten stuck with a lot of legislative leadership that does not align well with Tea Party conservatism.
A related problem is how the lower chamber works in DC and around the country. Many bills introduced in the Missouri House are pre-filed before the session starts. I suspect similar things happen in other states as well as in DC. Chairmanships are assigned at the start of the session. If you think of those pre-filed bills as a script and the committees as the actors then it's easy to think of House leadership directing a play. A bill they don't like gets shunted to a committee that doesn't care about it. The chairman says: "these aren't my lines" and that legislation languishes and dies. Bills that leadership likes, get prioritized and quickly voted out of committee. It's not quite a charade, but it often feels like one.
There's also the horse trading that goes on around who, what, and when bills will be voted on. That process is inevitably political; therefore, it is distasteful to conservatives who place principle above politics. But it's politics that lubricate the machinery of the legislature.
These tensions are exacerbated by the fact that many Tea Partiers are learning the details of how the legislative process works. Establishment types tend to take those processes and operate within them, but many Tea Party conservatives are inclined to question the legitimacy of the process itself. There are no easy solutions.
Perhaps understanding that these are the growing pains of our movement will better prepare us for the challenges ahead.