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January 6, 2015

GOP Sets Agenda, but Infighting Threatens Delay

As the 114th Congress convenes, Republicans are aiming fire at each other.

Today, the newly elected 114th Congress convenes, and with it, lots of hype, ambitions, agendas and political drama. Congress will be tasked with passing legislation the president will no doubt oppose, and Republicans will have to keep the infighting to a minimum if they ever hope to stop this administration’s assault on Liberty.

The GOP appears to be ready to go to work, having put forth an agenda that seeks to accomplish what the 113th Congress – derailed by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – could not. The first order of business for the House is to pass legislation expediting the Keystone XL pipeline. The Senate is expected to follow suit, with the GOP leadership making it clear that creating jobs and increasing energy production in the United States is a must.

Next on the agenda is ObamaCare. In the GOP weekly address, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) said that the House plans to rework ObamaCare’s definition of a full-time employee. The law sets the bar at 30 hours per week, but Republicans seek a return to the traditional understanding of a 40-hour workweek. Obviously, we would prefer Congress repeal the entire law, but it would be foolish to expect the president to sign legislation undoing his crowning “achievement.” And some reform is going to be necessary given the possibility of the Supreme Court striking down federal subsidies.

A third item on the Republican agenda is to rewrite the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Rep. John Kline (R-MN) are leading the way on pushing for legislation that seeks to reduce the federal government’s involvement with education. NCLB is what might be considered low-hanging fruit. Few people like it, and reform would demonstrate Republicans’ seriousness in governing.

With an established GOP agenda, the next hurdle should be getting a few Democrats on board and having the president sign the legislation that arrives on his desk. But before any agenda is put to motion, Republicans must settle their own infighting.

According to Fox News, at least nine conservative Republicans have declared their intent to vote against John Boehner as speaker of the House. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) says, “[A]s many as 18 conservatives will look to vote against Boehner.” And so the party begins.

> Update 3:30 p.m.: Here are the 25 Republicans who voted against Boehner – a few shy of ousting him as speaker.

Two representatives, Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), announced that they will challenge Boehner for his post. They claim Boehner has not taken a hard enough stance against the president, and specifically criticized him for forcing the CRomnibus through without giving members time to read it. They say voters want a change in leadership – something no doubt true among Tea Party conservatives.

The frustration is certainly both understood and well founded. Boehner is not the best man for the job of leading the House, and he has tweaked and angered conservatives along the way.

But his opponents don’t seem to have a viable alternative, and the showy display of disunity will accomplish little except provide fodder for the Leftmedia to report on GOP dysfunction.

Ronald Reagan once offered what he called his 11th Commandment: “Republicans shall not ever speak ill of their fellow Republicans.” Scorched-earth Republican infighting is unwise. Republicans should resolve their disputes quickly and move on to combatting the bigger threat to American Liberty – the Obama agenda.

This new Congress under GOP leadership has two years to do everything within its constitutional power to stop this president’s policies that are, in Obama’s words, “fundamentally transforming” our nation. But they can’t win if they don’t band together. The GOP momentum needs to carry all the way to 2016, when Republicans have the opportunity to gain more seats and even the presidency. So rather than putting on a political sideshow, the GOP needs to get to work.

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