Har­ris loses GOP Study Com­mit­tee chair­man race


CQ-Roll Call

— Fresh­man Rep. Mark Walker de­feated three-term Rep. Andy Har­ris in the Thurs­day con­test for Repub­li­can Study Com­mit­tee chair­man.

The North Carolina Repub­li­can will lead the con­ser­va­tive cau­cus, the largest GOP group in the House, as his party con­trols both cham­bers of Congress and the White House for the first time in a decade.

“Any­time that you have a chance to run for some­thing and lead your peers, your col­leagues, it’s very hum­bling,” Walker said. “We’re ready to jump in and work hard. We have a his­toric mo­ment with Pres­i­dent-


elect Don­ald Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent-(elect) Mike Pence, along with our Se­nate and House, to re­ally do some things for the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

Those things in­clude “tax re­form, pro­tect(ing) our re­li­gious lib­er­ties, full re­peal of Oba­macare,” he said. “It’s go­ing to be a busy sea­son, but we’re look­ing for­ward to it.” Har­ris, who had the back­ing of prior RSC chairs, said he will re­main a part of the RSC, de­spite his loss.

“That’s the way it works in a democ­racy,” the Mary­land Repub­li­can said of his loss. He said the vote was close.

Har­ris said he will also re­main a mem­ber of the Free­dom Cau­cus, a smaller con­ser­va­tive group that was formed two years ago be­cause the mem­bers felt the RSC did not ad­e­quately rep­re­sent their views.

Walker said the RSC would work with the Free­dom Cau­cus to ad­vance con­ser­va­tive ideas.

“It starts with the right ap­proach and the right tone,” he said. “I love those guys. I mean I have a lot of friends there, and we’ve worked to­gether be­fore on dif­fer­ent things. And I ap­pre­ci­ate their stance on con­ser­vatism. I’m right there with them.”

“Our ap­proach may vary from time to time,” Walker added, “But I think those guys are go­ing to be a great part of the RSC and mov­ing for­ward.”

Sev­eral mem­bers of the Free­dom Cau­cus did not join the RSC this year.

“My hope was ac­tu­ally to bring more (Free­dom Cau- cus mem­bers) in, but I’m pretty sure now they’ll view this as some­thing that won’t lead them that way.”

The RSC has bro­ken from lead­er­ship at times, but not as fre­quently as the Free­dom Cau­cus. Some con­ser­va­tives feel the RSC has not done enough to push leg­is­la­tion fur­ther to the right, although out­go­ing Chair­man Bill Flores dis­agrees with that as­sess­ment.

The RSC will stand up to lead­er­ship with fi­nesse when it needs to, Walker said.

“I think you do it with in­tegrity and with grace. Some­times that means pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions to say, ‘This is as far as we can (go).’ Some­times we have to push back, but that’s what the RSC his­tor­i­cally has done, and we look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to do that.”


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