House Republicans Head to Retreat Amid Frustration, Low Ratings [View all]
By James Rowley - Fri Jan 20 05:01:00 GMT 2012
House Republican leaders have a complicated task as their members gather for an annual retreat: to pull together a caucus that shares in Congress’s low approval ratings and develop a legislative agenda that unifies the party.
The retreat being held at a harbor-front hotel in Baltimore comes one month after U.S. House Speaker John Boehner had to capitulate in a standoff with the Democratic-controlled Senate and accept a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut deal. He is also facing frustration from House freshmen, many backed by the Tea Party movement, who say their party fell short of its goals of slashing federal spending and the government’s debt.
“We have a very long way to go on a lot of issues that are really important,” said Representative James Lankford, a freshman Republican from Oklahoma. He said Congress succeeded last year by not further increasing spending on discretionary programs. “But what we have not succeeded at is stopping the avalanche of debt that is coming on us,” he said in a telephone interview. “That’s the frustration.”
The election in 2010 of 87 House Republican freshmen presented both an opportunity and challenge for Boehner as his party took control. Many of the freshmen have been impatient for quick results and are pushing to move faster. They were at the center of battles last year over legislation to extend government spending authority.