GOP Moderates Are Making Paul Ryan's Life Harder

The group has recently begun to use some of the obstructionist tactics of hard-line conservatives.
Posted at 6:17 PM, Jul 27, 2017

The GOP won huge in 2016. The party had a surprise win in the White House and kept its majority in the House and Senate. But deep ideological divisions in the party have kept the GOP from scoring many big victories since. And those divides are always most evident in the House of Representatives.

You've probably heard of the House Freedom Caucus. It's a pretty outspoken bunch: the most conservative representatives, the most resistant to compromise and falling in line. But now, the more moderate Republicans in the House are taking on some of those traits, and it's causing some serious issues for Speaker Paul Ryan.

The moderates, or the Tuesday Group, have always been the key votes in helping Republicans actually pass legislation. And yet, they've either slowed or destroyed bills and amendments this year they considered too conservative.

You might remember the House Obamacare replacement almost came to a screeching halt. Moderates put their collective foot down when they fought for more funding for pre-existing conditions. And most recently, they've told Ryan they won't back any budget without some type of bipartisan deal with Democrats.

So what's changed to make moderates start to buck tradition? Well, it seems most of them are just sick of voting for the most conservative form of bills that eventually die in the Senate or casting votes to just make a point — especially when that gives them tense town halls and protests back home. 

Rep. Thomas Reed put it this way: "I think there's a lot of us who are like, 'Don't put us in a position of having to vote for something that has tremendous political risk to us and, substantively, is just done for negotiation purposes.'"

To be clear, the Tuesday Group hasn't yet been as disruptive or as organized as the House Freedom Caucus. But if that happens, every single piece of legislation could end up being a tug of war between extremes for Ryan. And that would make important parts of his agenda — like raising the debt ceiling — even harder to pass.