With the Republican Party growing apart as they search for a new Speaker of the House, GOP lawmakers are hitting the airwaves to argue their cases.
PA Rep. Charlie Dent appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday morning, alongside VA Rep. Dave Brat – who was thrust into the national spotlight after defeating former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the 2014 Republican primary.
Last month, House Speaker John Boehner announced he would be resigning on Oct. 30th, though he will now stay in office until the House Republican Caucus can select a new leader.
The GOP’s most conservative wing, the Freedom Caucus, has been blamed for much of the gridlock in Washington and is being accused of using its newfound power to hold the Speaker’s seat for ransom.
Dent and Brat, a member of the Freedom Caucus, squared off over the idea of functionality vs. ideology when picking their next leader.
“We have to get back to functionality. We have to prove to the American people we can govern,” Dent said. “We should marginalize people who don’t want to govern. I believe that members of Congress have a responsibility to govern.”
Dent said he hopes WI Rep. Paul Ryan – Mitt Romney’s 2012 VP choice – will fill the leadership void, though Ryan has repeatedly denied he will seek the position over the last few weeks. If chosen to be Speaker, Ryan will face the same problems as Boehner has for the last few years, Dent said.
“[Ryan] will have to make accommodations and collaborate with Democrats to pass a debt ceiling, a budget agreement,” Dent said. “If he does those things, he will have his legs taken out by his own members.”
Dent, a five-term congressman from “one of the country’s last swing districts,” defended his work with Democrats in pushing to re-establish the Export-Import Bank, saying it “would save a lot of jobs” in PA. Its charter was allowed to lapse at the end of June by the House.
“Some of us – the governing wing – want to use the process to advance good legislation. Others want to use the process to obstruct,” Dent said.