Newspaper article Roll Call

Mulvaney Says outside Groups Won't Define Conservative Credibility

Newspaper article Roll Call

Mulvaney Says outside Groups Won't Define Conservative Credibility

Article excerpt

Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, a front-runner in the race for chairmanship of the Republican Study Committee in the next Congress, is vowing to guard the independence of the GOP's right wing from influential outside groups like Heritage Action.

"The days for somebody else defining what it means to be conservative will be over," Mulvaney said in an interview.

Mulvaney is advancing the position of Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the RSC's former chairman, who put daylight between the RSC and Heritage Action, the Club for Growth and other advocacy groups that press members of the GOP caucus to hold a staunch conservative line on a range of issues.

"I think it's incumbent upon the people who get elected and have the voting cards, to define what it means to be conservative," said Mulvaney, who was first elected to Congress in 2010 in the tea party wave. "So going forward - on the farm bill, for example - If the folks who are voting think that a particular vote is conservative, we will defend that as a conservative vote, even against the wishes of some of the outside groups."

Although many Republicans, urged on by GOP leaders on measures such as last year's budget deal (PL 113-67), have broken from Heritage, the Club for Growth and other hard-line conservative groups in floor votes in the past year, Mulvaney's remarks are perhaps the strongest against the groups by a prominent member of the party's conservative wing.

"At some point in the recent past, conservatives lost control over what it means to be conservative," Mulvaney said. "We ceded that role to outside groups. There's a couple of groups that want to take that mantle of defining what it means to be conservative."

Mulvaney said the RSC, which counts about three-quarters of the Republican caucus as members, would work with Heritage Action and other groups when there is agreement on issues. …

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