It's always fun to watch Republican infighting! The group that launched Steve Scalise into his current position as Majority Whip is splitting into factions, because some of the members don't feel the famously extreme Republican Study Committee is conservative enough.
The group behind the government shutdown and destruction of any progress toward immigration reform in the last Congress is breaking away from the larger committee into a more exclusive, elite group of pure conservatives. This group will be invitation-only and consists mostly of those members with the worst attitudes toward Republican leadership.
The members have been talking for weeks, and they met Monday night to formalize their plans to institutionalize a competing, invitation-only organization that they see as a real conservative caucus that can push Speaker John Boehner rightward. Once a bastion for the conservative movement, the RSC has strayed too far from its original mission and been co-opted by the same party leaders it is meant to exert pressure upon, the members believe.
Republican leaders will be watching closely: Any divisions among conservatives might dilute the Right's ability to influence the leadership on key issues like immigration and spending, though the RSC has always been stocked with independent-minded members who never really took marching orders from the group anyway.
The new group, which does not yet have a name but is expected to include more than 30 members, is being de-facto led by former RSC Chairman Jim Jordan, although the formal leadership structure could change. It will also include Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who lost an election to become the chairman last year, disappointing many conservatives. The other founders are Reps. Justin Amash, Ron DeSantis, John Fleming, Scott Garrett, Raul Labrador, Mark Meadows, and Matt Salmon. Most but not all of those members are expected to renounce their RSC memberships, along with other members who will join the group.
Many of the members will meet Tuesday evening with Sen. Ted Cruz to discuss their plans and other matters over pizza, though Cruz himself has not been involved in the formation of the new group. Cruz's chief of staff, Paul Teller, was fired from his role as RSC executive director in 2013 after provoking the ire of party leaders and some members of the group.
Let's just call this the John Birch Reactionary Society, shall we? And I call bullshit on Ted Cruz not being involved. He's involved in everything.