The conservative Freedom Caucus — which played a key role in House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to step down in 2015 — isn’t ready to overthrow House Speaker Paul Ryan yet, but members made it very clear Thursday that they’re not happy.
Speaking at a breakfast organized by Bloomberg News, Rep. Jim Jordan, R–Urbana, one of the founders of the ultra–conservative group, said House GOP leadership has lacked a plan for tackling the items they campaigned on last year.
“Hope is not a plan,” he said. “What was the plan on the debt ceiling. Someone tell me, what’s the plan for tax reform. What the corporate rate’s going to be?”
Jordan, who with House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, was heading to the White House Thursday morning, said they met with Ryan Wednesday, but were unwilling to release details of that meeting.
Still, they said, reports — such as one in the Washington Post — that they were trying to find a replacement for Ryan were overblown, Meadows said.
“To extrapolate out that there’s some kind of leadership change or plan to address that is just not accurate,” he said.
“It had nothing to do with leadership,” Jordan said.
But, said Meadows, if the GOP accomplishes nothing by December “I think there’s going to be a rebellion against everybody — not just the leadership,” Meadows said, adding “if we get to December and we’ve not repealed and replaced Obamacare, we’ve not built the wall, we’ve not done tax reform, it is not going to be pretty.”
“It’s not just a leadership thing,” he said. “It’s for all 240 members of the Republican party.”
While the group was frustrated by Trump’s Wednesday announcement that he would back a Democratic plan to extend the debt ceiling for three months and pay to keep the government open through mid-December, they say Trump did it because he is “myopically focused” on tax reform.
But they say that had the GOP had its own plan, Trump might’ve sided with them. Instead, Ryan wanted to pass the debt ceiling separately from money for Hurricane Harvey recovery, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell preferred linking Harvey money with an 18-month extension of the debt ceiling.
The Freedom Caucus, meanwhile, wanted to link the debt ceiling to corresponding budget cuts.
Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, also a member of the Freedom Caucus, said while the GOP released a set of goals at the beginning of the year, “those aren’t the plays we’re calling.”
“We just want to run the offense we put together,” Davidson said.