Today, the first of the 114th Congress, finds Tea Party favorites Representatives Ted Yoho and Louie Gohmert each planning to challenge John Boehner’s reelection as Speaker of the House. The Tea Party darlings’ bids for the speaker’s gavel might have long odds, but don’t let that fool you: nothing about the Republican Party’s extreme, Tea Party agenda has changed as a result of the GOP’s “rebrand.” Indeed, a quick scan of some of the newest members of the House being sworn in today shows just how extreme this latest crop of Tea Party Republican members of Congress truly are.
Representing districts from Georgia to Maine, Virginia to Nevada, Illinois to Iowa, extreme Tea Party Republicans will be sworn today into the U.S. House of Representatives. Take Glenn Grothman in Wisconsin’s 6th District to start. We’ve already detailed the long list of Grothman’s greatest extreme hits, but as a quick refresher, the Congressman-elect has: proselytized about the “war on men,” fought for a seven-day workweek, and proposed a law to formally consider single parenthood a contributing factor to child abuse.
In Georgia, Congressman-elect Jody Hice thinks it’s okay for women to run for public office, provided they do so with the permission of their husbands. Hice wrote a book in 2012 in which, according to Mother Jones, he “asserts that supporters of abortion rights are worse than Hitler and compares gay relationships to bestiality and incest.” In that same book, Hice “asserts the gay community has a secret plot to recruit and sodomize children,” and writes that Islam“does not deserve First Amendment protections.”
Nevada’s Cresent Hardy told supporters earlier this year that Governor Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comment was not only “true,” but that the percentage is “bigger now.” Yet his extension of those who depend on government services seemingly does not include Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose cattle grazed on federal owned lands; Hardy blamed the federal government for the standoff at Bundy’s ranch. In his defense of Bundy, Hardy cited the Federalist Papers, calling the essays a “part of the constitution.” Hardy’s constitutional scholarship extends to his interpretation – contrary to that of the Supreme Court – that background checks for gun owners are unconstitutional.
Virginia’s 7th District, former home of Eric Cantor, will now be represented by Tea Party upstart David Brat. Brat, a professor by trade, has a deep appreciation for and commitment to rigorous science and facts, as evidenced by his claim that he is not concerned with global climate change because “over time, rich countries solve their problems.” Brat has also argued that one of the largest factors in economic growth is “the Protestant religious establishment,” and in an olive branch of bipartisanship, claimed that “the left does not believe in diversity. They believe in top-down, I’m going to force my way onto you.”
Just up the road in Virginia’s 10th District, Congresswoman-elect Barbara Comstock has voted in favor of allowing Virginians to bring guns into bars (because that can only end well). She pushed anti-union bills as a state legislator while being paid by a right to work advocacy group. And to top it off, she supported personhood legislation and voted in favor of an extreme piece of legislation requiring Virginia women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before they could receive an abortion.
New York’s Lee Zeldin, First District, also wants to restrict women’s access to health care, and supports a tax break for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Lest you think those were Zeldin’s only extreme policy positions, the good Congressman-elect also supports an option to replace Social Security with private investment accounts. In Maine’s 2nd District, newly elected Bruce Poliquin opposes raising the federal minimum wage and likely violated the state’s constitution by being involved with businesses while serving as state treasurer.
It’s not just extreme policy positions and offensive rhetoric that defines this crop of Tea Party Republicans. Some prefer to put their Tea Party-patented obstructionism front and center. David Young from Iowa’s 3rd District is an admitted member of the anti-compromise caucus. He praised Cruz’s filibuster and the shutdown last year; supports abolishing government agencies like Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Education, as well as the EPA and IRS; and heopposes rape and incest exceptions for abortions.
Meanwhile, Illinois Republican Mike Bost (IL-02) once had an outburst while serving in the Illinois House over a pension reform bill in which he threw papers all over the floor and compared Republicans and his constituents to the Biblical flight of Jews from Egypt. The Chicago Tribune kindly referred to Bost as an “obstructionist.” Huffington Post reported that while Bost “made a name for himself” with outbursts like this, his aggressive temper has not been confined to legislative matters. With Mitch McConnell promising no more government shutdowns, maybe Ted Cruz could learn a thing or two from Bost’s antics.
Although she might be the latest GOP addition to the House, Arizona’s Martha McSally is hardly the least extreme. McSally believes that unemployment benefits keep people out of work, and supports raising the Social Security retirement age. When asked if she supports the repeal of the 14th Amendment, McSally went so far as to say that the seminal constitutional amendment “was never intended to be what it is today, as you all know. It’s embarrassing.”
This is just a snapshot of the Republican Party’s latest class of Tea Party House electees. Are they moderate? No. Has anything changed for the “rebranded” GOP? Definitely not. Read American Bridge’s new report to learn more