On any day of the week, you can expect to find the Tuesday Group causing trouble within the GOP. This caucus of around 50 Republican have one thing in common, they are barely Republicans. While this centrist group was once proud of its moderate approach to conservatism, in recent debates they have lost their fiscal security to become a rogue actor in the party they claim membership.
With a newfound majority, in 1994 the Republican Party was ignited by a conservative ideology; but to act as a counterweight, a group of 40 Republicans created the Tuesday Group. These moderate Republicans were from primarily Democratic states such as New York and New Jersey, and were united by fiscal conservatism and more centrist social ideology.
Yet the group that once assisted with welfare reform and impeaching a president, is now preventing Republican legislation from moving through Congress. Rather than moderating the conservative movement, the Tuesday group has switched to stalling it completely.
The 2018 budget could be the Republican majority’s only opportunity to institute necessary spending cuts; however, in a letter penned by Representative Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and signed by 20 Tuesday Group members, the caucus shared immediate rejection of cuts to mandatory spending.
With the nation remaining $20 trillion in debt and Republicans hoping to increase defense spending by $50 billion to meet national security needs, cuts to mandatory spending are simply necessary to offset the costs.
Where is the fiscal responsibility that once made the Tuesday Group members Republicans when important cuts must be made?
Elsewhere, as Republicans work to use their majority to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Tuesday Group has provided significant pushback. Now with 50 members, the group was enough to prevent the American Health Care Act (AHCA), House Speaker Paul Ryan’s replacement plan for Obamacare, from passing through the House on its first try.
Despite almost all of the group voting in favor of full repeal in February 2015, Vox media’s Dylan Scott reports that this time, the Tuesday Group seems to no longer be in favor of a full repeal. Much of the group wants to keep Obamacare’s core insurance reforms, while others are worried about cuts to Medicaid.
While Conservative Freedom Caucus also found issue with the AHCA, they were quick to the negotiating table. The only reason this legislation passed in the House at all, was because Freedom Caucus leaders and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, agreed on an amendment to the original legislation.
However, this simple compromise came at a price — MacArthur resigned as chairman just days later, because his own caucus was furious that he worked to the other side. A group of Republicans were furious with their caucus leader, because he worked with other Republicans on the GOP’s top campaign issue for seven years running. Think about that for a minute.
The Hill reported that in closed-door meetings, Tuesday Group lawmakers warned MacArthur against negotiating with Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, providing no room for compromise or even progress on the issue. The Tuesday Group has allowed no room for compromise with Conservatives in the party yet, is unclear of their own views as well.
A Republican health care lobbyist told Scott, “The challenge in negotiating with the ‘Tuesday Group’ is that it’s not and never was intended to operate as a bloc the same way the [Freedom Caucus] tries to operate. So, it’s a bit like negotiating with Jell-O.”
This was the exact problem MacArthur realized he could not deal with, in his remarks to the group, MacArthur explained, “Clearly, our group is divided. Many in the Tuesday Group are eager to live up to our ideal of being problem-solvers, while others seem unwilling to compromise… I’m going to continue to govern the way I believe the American people need us to govern. That means we engage with the Freedom Caucus. We engage with everybody.”
Eventually, it was the compromise that MacArthur negotiated that enabled the House to pass legislation repealing and replacing Obamacare.
But on the budget, will such unity be possible when it comes to offsetting spending cuts?
If the Tuesday Group no longer stands by the basic conservative economic principles of cutting spending, limiting government entitlements, and focusing on national security; they are Republicans in name only and that is not enough.
The Tuesday Group attempted to bring down Republican efforts healthcare, and now they are doing the same to the budget, despite not offering any alternate plans. How can they pretend to be a wing of the Republican Party if they in no way align with the party’s campaign promises? Rather than being a voice of moderation, they are simply a voice of dissent, refusing to even communicate with conservatives.
Now, with no major platform and no room for negotiation, the Tuesday Group is singling itself out as the obstacle to progress — attempting to destroy this once in a lifetime opportunity for the Republican majority to govern. What the American people must remind them is that it is their seats in moderate districts that will be most in danger for losses in 2018 should the Republican Party fail to govern as a majority should — by keeping its campaign promises.
Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.