Chapman to DeMint’s Office

January 2, 2007 at 11:48 am

2007 brings a big change for me.

I recently accepted a position with South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint. Starting this week I will be leaving Heritage to serve as DeMint’s Senior Communications Advisor. In that capacity I will be helping Senator DeMint with speechwriting and communications strategies.

Of course, given my background I will be paying special attention to the blogosphere. Conservative bloggers will have a friend and a resource in Senator DeMint, no doubt about it.

DeMint was recently elected to chair the conservative Senate Republican Steering Committee. As leader of that group, I believe DeMint is poised to become an even more visible conservative leader in a Congress that is now ripe for such leadership.

Late in the 109th Congress observers saw Senator DeMint team up with Senator Tom Coburn to shut down the Senate favor factory much to the chagrin of many pork-addicted lawmakers. Those kind of heroics will become even more necessary now that the GOP is in the minority and in need of a righting of the ship. Keep an eye out for DeMint as he leads the charge on issues conservatives care most deeply about in the 110th Congress.

The Heritage Foundation will always be my ideological home. For decades now Heritage has been on the front lines of the battle fighting hard to build an America “where freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society flourish.” In that fight Heritage has so often been the standard bearer for Reaganesque conservative principles that have been the anchor to which conservatives are tethered.

My affiliation with Heritage makes me proud.

Of late, Heritage has recognized the growing importance of new media and has made strategic decisions to be a leader in the field. Hiring me was part of that strategy and they have done one better in hiring my replacement, Rob Bluey from Human Events.

Under Rob’s leadership Heritage will continue to be a leader in the think tank world when it comes to new media.

As for, I will keep the site and the archives up but my posting will be rare and will probably concentrate on less political topics — to be honest, I have yet to really work out what I will do with this space. Subscribe to the rss feed if you want to be notified of occassional new posts.

So for now, this is a sign off of sorts. I will still write, but it will be for Senator DeMint and Senate conservatives at the Steering Committee. I look forward to the challenge that this presents and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work for Senator DeMint.

Finally, thanks to all of you who have been regular readers of this blog. Without you guys checking in daily and joining in the conversation via email or comments, my blogging would not have been nearly as much fun.

Senate GOP will not demand same treatment as 2001 Dems

December 18, 2006 at 4:40 pm

In 2001 the Senate was divided 50-50.

Democrats in the Senate demanded under threat of filibuster that the GOP pass a Senate rules package that gave the minority more funding for committee slots and — as it turned out more importantly — the right to reorganize should the makeup of the Senate change in favor of the Democrats. The makeup of the Senate did change when Jim Jeffords switched parties and because the Senate GOP had conceded to Democrat demands providing a rule for mid-session reorganization, Democrats gained control of the Senate. Had the GOP not conceded to that rule, they could have filibustered the motion to reorganize and kept control of the Senate.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot, and unlike the 2001 Democrats, today’s Senate GOP will reportedly not push for equal treatment. Congressional Quarterly reports:

Senate Republicans, sensitive to appearances and confident of their parliamentary prowess, are unlikely to press for a formal agreement with Democrats to reorganize the chamber if the GOP picks up a seat in the course of the 110th Congress.

This week’s sudden hospitalization of Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who underwent emergency surgery for bleeding in his brain, dramatically underscored the tenuous balance of power in the new Congress.

While I understand that pushing for this rule at this time could be perceived as morbid, I think it is a mistake not to demand equal treatment. This has nothing to do with Senator Johnson. His recovery thankfully appears to be going well and I fully expect and hope that he will be back casting votes in the Senate soon.

What this is about is another Senator: Joe Lieberman.

Joe Lieberman was betrayed by many of his colleagues and his closest friends in the 2006 midterm elections. That betrayal he has made clear is something he will not soon forget and he has hinted multiple times that he would consider switching parties if the extreme liberal faction of his party pushes things too far. It is good for conservatives and for the nation to have Joe Lieberman acting as check on these extreme elements in the Democratic Party.

But now, as the GOP is foregoing their right to demand equal treatment, Joe Lieberman’s power to act as a counterwieght to liberal extremism has been diminished.

If the Senate rules do not treat the GOP in the same way that the 2001 Dems were treated, Joe Lieberman’s threat to switch parties if liberals get out of control is rendered toothless. This is because under the rules about to be conceded to by the Senate GOP, Democrats would be able to filibuster any motion to reorganize should the makeup of the Senate change. If Lieberman switched parties, do you think a liberal Senate Democratic caucus who already has demonstrated that they have no love loss for Lieberman would hesitate to filibuster a motion to reorganize? Of course they wouldn’t. They would feel justified in their filibuster because they would say that Lieberman caucused with their party and that the 2006 midterms was an American stamp of approval on a Democratic majority for these two years.

The GOP should not roll over on this issue. This is not about getting the majority back. This is about allowing Joe Lieberman to temper the Democrats’ extreme liberal tendencies.

CSPAN executives are political geniuses

December 15, 2006 at 10:26 am

Who knew that CSPAN exectives had such a good sense of political timing?

The Hill reports:

Noting that Democrats have pledged to increase transparency and accountability in government, C-SPAN Thursday called on House Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to give television viewers the same real-time access to views of the House floor as anyone sitting in the gallery would have.

In a Dec. 14 letter, C-SPAN CEO and Chairman Brian Lamb asked Pelosi to roll back the three-decade old practice that put the House Speaker in charge of the cameras. C-SPAN and the House reached the current agreement in 1979 when cameras were first introduced to the chamber. He wrote that he sought a similar agreement in 1994 when Republicans captured control of the House, but he did not get it.


Rules and established practices prevent cameras from taking individual reaction shots or from panning the chamber, leaving viewers with an incomplete picture of what’s happening in the House,” he added.

In addition, Lamb asked Pelosi to immediately post how individual lawmakers voted on a piece of legislation. Currently, the parties’ totals appear on screen, but the individual tallies are not posted until hours later.

Providing viewers real-time access to who votes how and when would indeed be revealing. So often moderates in both parties vote last while they wait to see which way the tide goes or to see what is possibly in it for them when their vote becomes very valuable at the end. Establishing that trend on the record would be very illuminating.

UPDATE: And then there is this semi-related note from National Journal this morning…

Although Democrats have vowed a return to ‘regular order’ in the legislative process, along with more openness and accountability, many of the decisions about their first-100-hours agenda are being made privately by party leaders and a handful of committee leaders.

Johnson situation recalls topsy turvy Senate of 1950’s

December 15, 2006 at 7:57 am

Senator Tim Johnson is said to have good chances of recovering. That is indeed good news.

All the speculation surrounding Senator Johnson’s health has led to a beltway media feeding frenzy. But the Washington Post’s Al Kamen reminds us of another evenly divided Senate that was even more tumultous:

But the unsettled situation pales when compared with the bizarre 83rd Congress in 1953 and 1954, during which nine of the then-96 senators died, including one who committed suicide, and one resigned.

When the Senate convened on Jan. 3, 1953, the GOP was in charge 48 to 47, plus one former Republican, Sen. Wayne L. Morse– an independent so independent that he moved his seat to the Senate aisle and would not vote with the Democrats to organize.

By Aug. 3 of that year, when the first session adjourned, three members — including Majority Leader Robert A. Taft (R-Ohio) — had died. When the next session began in January 1954, the Democrats had become the majority, 48-47-1, but they did not assume control. At one point during that session, as various members died, the D’s even had a two-vote lead, but they never challenged Republican control of the body. The Senate adjourned Aug. 20 back where it had started, with the GOP holding a one-vote majority.

GOP Senate committee assignments

December 14, 2006 at 10:22 am

Senator Mitch McConnell today announced the Republican Senate committee assignments. McConnell’s press release with the assignments is in the extended section. Read the rest of this entry »

Secret Senate meetings?

December 8, 2006 at 3:33 pm

The Washington Post runs a late-breaking story today about plans for secret Senate meetings in the 110th Congress. The Post article characterizes the meetings as “secret” and says they will help speed up the Senate because members can find consensus behind closed doors that they may not be able to find on the Senate floor out in the open:

WASHINGTON — New Democratic and Republican leaders, trying to break Senate gridlock, are planning a secret “bipartisan caucus” to speed up business. The plans were disclosed Friday, even as a Congress still under Republican control was being accused by Democrats of being a “do-nothing” institution. It would establish a precedent expanding the kinds of “executive sessions” that up to now have been relatively rare, so that lawmakers can work better together.

It’s the brainchild of incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and has been endorsed by his Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

The rules governing any such meetings have not been finalized, according to Reid spokesman Jim Manley. He added in a subsequent interview that only one meeting was being planned and was expected to be closed to the public.

While I think the desire for bipartisan cooperation and a toning down of the rhetoric is commendable, I instinctively don’t trust these off-line meetings. The assumption supporting the need for the meetings, of course, is that members behave differently when the cameras are on than they would in private. And while that is certainly true, I don’t think it is a good idea to encourage that behavior by officially creating two different arenas in which members operate: the secret, and the public.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think everything members of Congress do needs to be public and to be out in the open. I acknowledge that these guys need their space to breath sometimes. They need to be able to have private conversations with colleagues with the assurance that not everything they say will show up in the NY Times the next morning. But that type of privacy is different than the type that seems to be suggested in this article.

The article goes on to quote Heritage Foundation colleague Brian Darling:

Others say that any meeting of 100 senators with rules of any kind is by definition a meeting of the Senate.

“It would be a de facto meeting of the Senate and although they want to call it something else, it is,” said Brian Darling, director of Senate relations for the Heritage Foundation.

“To set up something and to plan something between the leaders is very unusual and should be subject to open government rules,” Darling added. “Their intentions are good but the results of what they’re doing will be not good for the American people.”

Also worth considering is what kind of precedent this would set in the Senate. It is possible that secret meetings like this would become gatherings in which debates that both sides of aisle would rather not have in public are aired and in which consensus is reached. But why exactly that consensus was reached is left for outside observers to take wild guesses at. I am not sure we want a Senate that would take certain debates off-line while leaving other debates on-line.

Perhaps I am a little too worried about this. It is possible that these meetings are rare and turn out to be harmless, or even helpful to an institution that has seen its fair share of partisan food fights lately. But one has to admit, the idea of secret Senate sessions wherein the entire Senate is gathered behind closed doors conjures up the images of smoke-filled rooms filled with deal-makers and influence-peddlers that both sides of the aisle want to stay away from.

Boehner: Contract with America alive and well

December 8, 2006 at 12:12 pm

In the closing hours of the 109th Congress and the 12 year Republican House majority, Majority Leader John Boehner has distributed a memo to his colleagues in which he lays out the mission ahead for Republicans. Among other things, Boehner suggest to his colleagues that the “the Contract with America is alive and well - perhaps more now than it has been at any other time in recent years.”

Read Boehner’s entire memo in the extended section. Read the rest of this entry »

Ryan moves up the ranks on budget committee

December 7, 2006 at 12:34 pm

Word on the hill is that the young up and comer Paul Ryan was just selected by the steering committee to be the next top ranking GOP member on the House Budget Committee. I mentioned earlier in the week that this choice between Ryan and Ander Crenshaw was one to watch. Ryan ranked 13th on the committee, while Crenshaw was next in line. This was improbable to say the least.

Ryan’s selection suggests House GOP leadership backed Ryan who was seen as the more conservative candidate (a good sign). This comes a day after Jeb Hensarling was elected to succeed Mike Pence at the RSC.

Conservatives are giddy to say the least.

Ryan has made a name for himself as being a champion on social security reform and budget issues like the line item veto.

The future of the RSC

December 7, 2006 at 11:52 am

Newly-elected Republican Study Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling is thinking about the future of the RSC. According to RSC staff, he is kicking things off on an open note.

Throughout the afternoon Hensarling’s office will be open to all members of the RSC who have an opinion on where the body of 100-plus conservatives should go from here.

This afternoon will serve as “a come-and-go listening session to solicit counsel on the future of the Republican Study Committee,” said Hensarling’s Communications Director Brad Dayspring.

“The meeting will take place in his office for several hours. This will be the first in a series of listening sessions that Congressman Hensarling will host to seek guidance from Members on ways to improve the RSC and to discuss the role that the RSC should play in the 110th Congress.”

UPDATE: Writing for the WSJ Opinion Journal Political Diary email Stephen Moore notes:

One problem for the RSC going forward is its size. What was once a small, dedicated caucus for unwavering conservatives, of which there are now only about 30 in the entire Congress, expanded to 100 members and lost its hard edge. Members routinely began to wander from RSC positions. Smaller and more principled is probably a better approach for the Study Committee. If there are only 25-30 ideologically committed conservatives, so be it. One of the Hensarling supporters tells me: “Jeb should understand that it’s better not to thin the soup by adding marginal members who don’t believe in half the policy positions we take. Somebody has to take on Nancy Pelosi.” Yes, and at times, Messrs. Boehner and Blunt too.

The five-day congressional work week and families

December 6, 2006 at 1:40 pm

As noted, congressional Democrats are moving to a five day legislative work-week in Congress next year. Some Republicans are criticizing the move:

“Keeping us up here eats away at families,” said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. “Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families — that’s what this says.”

Markos Moulitsas predictably fires back at Kingston’s charge:

Actually, it says that our elected officials will have to actually work for their salaries. I had no idea that they were such proponents of a 3-day workweek. I’m sure they’ll be writing legislation to give the rest of us that right, what with them being all “pro-family” and all.

Apparently, it also says that there’s a law against members moving their families to Washington D.C.

Of course there is no law against moving family members to DC. But, aside from the expense of doing that, there are political considerations, namely that political opportunists like Kos will use it as a way to attack you. Remember the vitriolic attacks against Rick Santorum?

Santorum did move his family to DC because he wanted to be close to his young kids. But he received nothing but criticism from the Kos crowd. Witness this post from Daily Kos in which Santorum was criticized for exactly this issue:

If you are not a resident of the state, you aren’t allowed to run for the U.S. Senate…

…Rick Santorum needs to convince the voters of Pennsylvania that he lives among them and not just an out-of-towner who used to live here when he was first elected.

Someone from Kos recommended in an email that we try to find out information about his wife’s case in Virginia. The Kos(sack, sian, mopolitan) suggested that in my claims, the court records would start with something like:

Jane Doe (Karen Santorum), of Leesburg Virginia blah blah blah. I agree. Let’s find out where she claimed as her home.

I am not opposed to a five day work week. Neither am I opposed to a three day work week (hey, more often than not the less time for legislating the better off we are). But I do think Kingston has a point about families.

Hensarling elected RSC Chairman

December 6, 2006 at 1:12 pm

Jeb Hensarling was just elected as the next Chairman of the Republican Study Committee. Hensarling beat his rival Todd Tiahrt by a vote of 57-42.

UPDATE: Former RSC Chairman (that sounds weird), Mike Pence, released the following statement:

“The members of the Republican Study Committee chose wisely in electing Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas as their chairman for the 110th Congress.”As the first contested election for chairman of the RSC, this was a choice between two good conservatives. I commend Rep. Todd Tiahrt of Kansas on a well-fought campaign and on his many years of conservative leadership.

“Jeb Hensarling is a friend of freedom like no other. Over the past two years, Jeb has been at the center of every battle where House conservatives made a difference for fiscal discipline and reform. Jeb Hensarling is the right man to lead House conservatives in the 110th Congress.

“For his integrity, his personal courage and his unparalleled devotion to the conservative agenda, I welcome the election of my friend, and freedom’s friend, Jeb Hensarling of Texas as the next chairman of the Republican Study Committee.”

UPDATE: RSC Chairman Jeb Hensarling released the following statement:

“I would like to congratulate Congressman Todd Tiahrt for running a good race. He is a strong conservative and great asset to the RSC,” said Hensarling.”I am humbled by the results of today’s election and am honored to be chosen by my colleagues as RSC Chairman for the 110th Congress. The RSC has a deep bench of talented public servants who are committed to the principles of Ronald Reagan and the Contract With America, and each will be essential in developing and communicating our conservative message.

“Working together with our leadership, conservatives will articulate our commitment to our key principles of limited government, individual empowerment, a strong national defense and traditional values to the American people. We will continue the march for liberty and freedom with passion, building a new Republican Majority in the process.”

Who will lead the RSC?

December 6, 2006 at 10:36 am

While the press covers the release of the Iraq Study Group report, an important closed door meeting of House conservatives goes relatively unnoticed. The Republican Study Committee today in the noon hour will select their next leader. Will the RSC stay with a Pence-like leader in Jeb Hensarling, or go to a different style with the more leadership/appropriator aligned Todd Tiahrt?

The answer to that question could have significant implications for the future of the Republican Study Committee.


Hensarling vs. Tiahrt

December 5, 2006 at 11:23 am

National Review’s Johnathan Martin previews tomorrow’s Republican Study Committee leadership election between Representatives Jeb Hensarling and Todd Tiahrt:

Where they really differ is in style. This is not just reflected in their contrasting public images, but also in their respective supporters. Emblematic of their differences in tenure, Tiahrt and Hensarling have something of a generational gap in their list of public backers.With Tiahrt are the RSC’s “founders,” those who restarted the conservative caucus after it was initially abolished following the GOP sweep in 1994,” Rep’s Dan Burton (Ind.), John Doolittle (Calif.) and Sam Johnson (Tex.). Also on board are Rep’s Chris Cannon (Utah), Mark Souder (Ind.), and Dave Weldon (Fla.).

These members have each served at least a decade in the House. Soulder and Weldon, like Tiahrt, are products of Class of ’94 and Weldon and Doolittle are both appropriators.

While all conservatives, these members, like the man they’re backing, have practiced a different brand of internal politics. They’re more reliable votes for the GOP leadership and less apt to harpoon those leaders for straying from conservative doctrine.

Hensarling’s team, too, reflects the candidate’s nature. Included are current RSC chair Mike Pence (Ind.) and rabble-rousing Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), two of the biggest thorns in the side of the leadership, who both came to Congress in 2000. Also backing Hensarling is Rep. John Shadegg (AZ), Pence’s predecessor at the RSC. Shadegg and Pence, of course, challenged Roy Blunt and John Boehner for their leadership positions last month, with each losing badly.

A pro-Hensarling source points out that the Texan also has two members of the leadership, Conference Secretary John Carter (Tex.) and Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), publicly backing his bid. But one leadership aide knows what they’ll be getting with Hensarling atop the RSC.

“He won’t be anymore of a pain in the ass than Pence was,” this staffer says, finding the positive angle.

35 under 35

December 5, 2006 at 10:29 am

The Hill recognizes the top 35 hill staffers under the age of 35. There are some real solid staff on here. Congrats to them…