WASHINGTON — (Newsblaze) — Fresh off the Supreme Court’s ruling on Same Sex marriage, Conservative lawmakers gathered in the Rayburn House office building, for the June edition of “Conversations with Conservatives.”
News events this morning in Washington reduced the attendance at the symposium to about four or five congressmen. Nonetheless, the conversation centered around three topics: The Court’s decision on marriage, the failure of the house to pass the farm bill and immigration reform winding its way through the Senate. This month’s presentation featured more differences with the leadership than the previous month.
Same Sex Marriage
The discussion began with Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) who just came from the Supreme Court, and a brief exchange on the issue. Huelskamp referred to the ruling on same sex marriage as “ideologically driven and legally inconsistent.” The lawmakers were challenged at several points by members of the press, who wondered how the GOP could manage politically, with public opinion changing on the issue.
“We abandon our social positions at great peril” noted the Kansas congressman who believed that such positions attracted voters to the GOP. Huelskamp continued by giving credit to his party’s leadership for defending the Defense of Marriage Act, that was passed by congress in 1996, and ultimately signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton. Huelskamp’s office later that afternoon sent reporters a press release, saying he was going to file the paperwork to introduce a “Federal Marriage Amendment” to the Constitution.
Democrats Move The Goalposts
Also on the minds of conservative lawmakers was the failure of the Farm Bill in the House. “Last week was very instructive” noted Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) who called his party’s leadership negotiations with the Democrats the “Lucy and Charlie Brown syndrome.”
“When you negotiate with Democrats, they always move the goal posts at the last moment,” explained Labrador. Labrador noted the opposition had to organize their party to vote in opposition well in advance of the defeat on the bill.
However, other conservatives voiced their objections to explain voting against the Farm Bill. “I never voted for a farm bill,” remarked Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon, who noted 79% percent of the spending in the nearly trillion dollar bill went for the food stamp program. California Congressman Tom McClintock saw a silver lining in the bill, that food stamp provisions could be renegotiated.
“We took a big step forward in the bill’s defeat,” noted McClintock.
Hispanics And The Immigration Bill
When a reporter posed the question to the panel about whether House Republicans had to pass the immigration bill to garner favor with the Hispanic community, Labrador, the panel’s only Hispanic, answered with an emphatic “NO.” “My biggest frustration is that we have to … for political considerations,” remarked the Idaho lawmaker.
Labrador went on cite the example of New Mexico congressman Rep. Steve Pierce, that became a model for him. In an overwhelmingly Hispanic district, he was still able to explain his opposition to Amnesty to his constituents. “He tells his constituents when he disagrees with something.”
Some conservatives went to Speaker Bohener with concerns in recent days that the Republican leadership would try to pass the bill with Democrats, cutting conservatives out of the loop. Salmon noted “there’s great unrest,” and said implementation of the “Hastert Rule,” requiring majority Republican support to pass a bill on the floor would “actually strengthen Speaker Boehner’s hand.” He thought it would send a signal to the White House that they would have negotiate from a conservative direction.
Salmon was working on a petition for the “Hastert Rule” and said his effort was “going very well” – but he wouldn’t disclose to reporters how well his efforts were going. “Legislation we pass should be majority pass,” Salmon added.
IRS Scandal Far From Resolved
Turning to the unfolding IRS scandal, Salmon noted, in contrast to the reporter’s question which gave the appearance any investigation was over, it was “far from resolved.” His California colleague, Tom McClintock, wondered why the government wasn’t adopting another agency’s successful investigative approach with the IRS scandal.
“The NTSB has been successful at investigating aircraft crashes by not having a predetermined conclusion.” The California lawmaker went on to ask why that strategy wasn’t being employed in the IRS scandal.
As to the Supreme Court’s decision about the Voting Rights Act, Labrador noted he wasn’t an election law expert, so he couldn’t comment on the issue except to say, “I don’t know how it’s going to impact.”
See also the May 2013 Conversations With Conservatives After Explosive IRS Hearings.