There are two power centers in the Senate Republican Conference. One is the official leadership under Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The second is the Tea Party Troika of Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul.
It’s not that there are two Republican parties. Nor is there a chasm running along ideological lines. The new dynamic is this: The official leadership has even less power than Senate leadership typically has, and the Tea Party Troika, mastering what’s called the “inside-outside game,” has more power to swing their colleagues than backbenchers normally have.
Senate floor leaders are typically called “cat herders.” Individual senators always have much more power than individual congressmen, so party leaders in the upper chamber always have trouble corralling their flock. McConnell has even less leverage than his predecessors.
First, the GOP earmark ban in effect since the 2010 elections makes it harder for party leaders to buy off wavering members.
Second, the persistent anti-establishment sentiment among the GOP base blunts leadership threats involving committee assignments. Among the GOP base, it’s a badge of honor to be whacked publicly by the leadership. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., became something of a Tea Party hero when the House leadership stripped him of committee spots because he wouldn’t do the party’s bidding.
Read More at The Washington Examiner . By Timothy P. Carney.
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