Events Move Forward as GOP 'Retreats'
LEWISBURG, W.Va. -- Greetings from snowy Lewisburg, one town over from where House Republicans are gathering at the Greenbrier resort for their annual retreat. While members (and reporters) were traveling here today, two important things happened back in D.C. that will affect the retreat agenda -- a stimulus deal and the retirement announcement of Rep. James Walsh (R-N.Y.).
President Bush, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed on an economic stimulus package this morning of roughly $145 billion that includes rebate checks and a variety of temporary tax deductions for corporate investments and small businesses.
This deal has been expected for the last couple of days but the timing is interesting -- before conservative Republicans had the chance to lobby their leaders on it at the retreat. In general, conservatives have been dismissive of the rebates idea and would prefer permanent tax cuts for corporations and capital gains.
The deal still has to make it through the Senate, though there are as many or more liberals in that chamber who want to tinker with the package as there are conservatives. At the same time, from the right's perspective, the deal could certainly have been a lot worse.
On the campaign front, Walsh announced today that he will not run for re-election in his Syracuse-based district. This is bad news for the GOP.
Walsh won his 10th term in 2006 by just two points over former Congressional aide Dan Maffei (D), who is gunning for the seat again this time around. With the GOP's declining fortunes in New York and the possibility of home state Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) at the top of the ticket, Walsh faced another very tough contest.
Now the race is the entire party's headache. Maffei has been raising solid amounts of money, and Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll (D) is reportedly also weighing a bid. Walsh is the 18th House Republican to announce his retirement, and two more Republicans are running for the Senate, putting a total of at least 20 GOP-held open seats on the board.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) will surely mention Walsh when he gives his colleagues his presentation on the lay of the electoral land at this retreat. Open seats are expensive, and every new one increases pressure on the NRCC to improve its fundraising that has been anemic so far this cycle.
One other note on Walsh: He is a moderate Northeasterner, two traits that are in dwindling supply among House Republicans after the devastating 2006 election. When members get together for dinner tonight at the Greenbrier, there will be a lot more conservatives in the room than centrists, and a lot fewer members from north of the Mason-Dixon line than there were two years ago.
January 24, 2008; 4:51 PM ET
Categories: 2008 Campaign , Agenda , GOP Leaders , Purse Strings
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