House Conservatives Crow About Sequestration Victory

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 20 2013 1:25 PM

"We Took a Hill and Defeated the Enemy"

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich take part in the Republican presidential debate at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida on January 23, 2012.

Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages

The Heritage Foundation gathers House conservatives once a month for an open-press, open-blogger panel called "Conversations with Conservatives." Every month, the tone has grown both more militant and more optimistic. An example: Two members referred to the agreements made among all Republicans at their retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia as the "Williamsburg Accord." That accord "keeps the sequester cuts" while sequencing a debt debate that Republicans can live with.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

"We can take our deals, principles, and vision," said Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, "and put it into the debt ceiling debate this summer." Huelskamp, who'd lost his budget committee slot (then pitched a fit about it) after opposing Paul Ryan's 2012 plan, said he'd vote for this one.

"You're going to see a bright shiny object attached to this debt ceiling vote," predicted the glummer Rep. Tom Massie, a freshman from Kentucky. He didn't think the conservatives' goals, like the defunding of Obamacare, would survive.


"If that happens, there are going to be a lot of us who aren't very happy," said Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador. "If we don't get to a balanced path in 10 years, the Williamsburg Accord will not have been followed."

But why be so pessimistic? The conservatives argued that they'd taken the worst the president and the press had to offer during the sequestration fight. They'd won. They would win again.

"In Vietnam, we took a hill and defeated the enemy, then we retreated and let the enemy take over," said South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan. "In the sequester we've held that ground ... the momentum is with us."

There was a funny tension here: The party leadership was following their lead, but that leadership was discussed in the terms usually reserved for a rival military power. An accord! A blogger tried to sow a little discord by asking the conservatives what they thought of the RNC's minty fresh reform plan. They were fine with the restrictions on media, less on board with the outreach and apology stuff.

"Making sure we don't have George Stephanopoulos do our Republican debates is probably good," said Labrador.

"We tried two moderate Republican candidates, McCain and Romney, and we lost both times," said Duncan. Why not go back to the model of Ronald Reagan? No one was cruel enough to point out that Reagan's electorate was 88 percent white, and Romney's was only 72 percent white, but Duncan hinted at a solution for that. Get more whites to show up! "In Florida, 350,000 white Republicans did not show up on Election Day."

But the panel's discussion of immigration took for granted that the party needed to change and win more Latino votes. More on that in a bit.

Correction, March 20, 2013: This post originally misspelled George Stephanopoulos' last name.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.