Virginia Congressman Dave Brat is urging a delay of Tuesday’s leadership election.
Before lawmakers cast their vote, candidates for GOP leadership ought to identify the specific policy agenda they plan to enact in response to the mandate that the American people gave Congress with the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Brat says.
Brat explained that Speaker Ryan’s “Better Way” agenda is not what “animated this historic insurgent election”. He also noted that while Speaker Ryan may not have been “listening to the voices of the forgotten and downtrodden American workers,” some conservative members of Congress were paying attention and have struggled to “to carry that message to the elites and media in D.C. who have, until now, paid no attention to what those voices had to say.”
“Speaker Ryan says that Trump has ‘earned a mandate’ from the American people. Ahead of the vote for Speaker, it is important that we identify exactly what that mandate is, so that we are able to elect a leadership team that will actively champion that mandate,” Brat wrote in an op-ed in Newsmax. “Republicans have led the House for six years. I want to make sure that we unify around the agenda the American people just mandated.”
“While I am a fan of much of the ‘Better Way’ agenda, it is not what fueled or animated this historic insurgent election,” Brat added. “’The Better Way’ is a very rational set of policy prescriptions put forward by Speaker Ryan, a policy expert, but our leadership has acknowledged that Trump saw something they missed. The ‘Better Way’ agenda has been in play for a year now– yet Trump saw something new. So what was it?
Brat explained that while Congress has fought for donor class priorities like fast tracking the Trans Pacific Partnership and “taking up deals on behalf of big business, Congress didn’t bother with the issues that matter to struggling Americans back home.”
“That’s what this election was about,” Brat writes.
“Speaker Ryan promised last year that if elected, he would adhere to regular order. It didn’t happen,” Brat added. “This year, the House didn’t even vote on a budget.”
“Is this what the American people want?” Brat asked.
In the piece, Brat outlined what he viewed as the mandate the American people have given to Congress:
“On November 8th, Americans voted for good paying jobs, for national sovereignty, for America’s priorities over those of a global elite, for law and order, for securing the border and temporarily pausing the inflow of foreign refugees from terror hot spots until they can be properly vetted. Americans decisively voted against Obama’s rule by pen and by phone, and against Obamacare. We voted for a strong America that does not get rolled by China or Russia. We voted for trade policies that prioritize the needs of American workers; for rolling back the crushing regulations faced by small businesses, and to “drain the swamp” of Washington corruption and ossified Washington cronies. It is overwhelmingly clear where America stands.
Brat explained that while Speaker Ryan may not have been paying attention to the working men and women of this country, “some of us were listening and many of us have run on these breakthrough issues for years.” Brat wrote:
“Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said Trump has turned politics on its head and that Trump ‘heard a voice in this country that no one else heard.’
Some of us were listening to the voices of the forgotten and downtrodden American workers. Some of us have been struggling to carry that message to the elites and media in D.C. who have, until now, paid no attention to what those voices had to say.
Tuesday was not a surprise. It was a referendum, a call to attention and action by those who for years have felt abandoned by the political insiders, party elites, and corporate media that control Washington, D.C.
Not everyone missed what Trump heard. Some of us were listening and many of us have run on these breakthrough issues for years.”
“This isn’t about personalities; it’s about policy. Given time, it’s possible that leadership would put together a list that closely resembles what Americans want. But we aren’t being given time. We’re being asked to vote on the Speaker on our first full day back in D.C. And it is absurd to think that we have processed the full meaning and implications of this seismic election in less than a week.”
Why the rush? Let’s slow down, think and properly plan this so we get it right. Look at what happened in the last two years when we didn’t make our agenda absolutely clear to the American people. If we rush this Speaker election, the American people will feel manipulated once again. This is no time to undermine morale and do an end-run around them.
Brat concluded: “From our leadership, I ask for clear, unambiguous answers on how they will pursue the agenda the American people voted for. I am happy to vote for anyone who does so. I will not vote for anyone who does not have this agenda on paper for the American people to see. That is what the people I represent demand and deserve.”
Conservatives have noted that Ryan’s personal policy agenda was “rejected” on November 8th– particularly his views on immigration, trade and crime. According to polling data, Ryan’s open borders vision on immigration and trade is opposed by roughly 9 in 10 GOP voters.
It is unclear whether members of the House Freedom Caucus and conservative lawmakers—including Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Jeff Duncan, Jim Bridenstine, Brian Babin, Steve King, Matt Salmon, Alex Mooney, Gary Palmer, Barry Loudermilk, John Fleming and others—who voted for Ryan last year, will vote to elect him again as House Speaker on Tuesday.
Disclosure: Julia Hahn used to work as a press staffer in Rep. Dave Brat’s office.