Word on Capitol Hill began spreading about the confrontation, which took place during the “Elected Leader Committee” meeting on June 24.
The Elected Leader Committee is made up of Reps. John Boehner, Roy Blunt, Adam Putnam, McCotter, John Carter, Kay Granger, Tom Cole, Eric Cantor and Dreier, and, according to a GOP leadership aide, develops public policy positions and talking points that are distributed to the Republican caucus, as well as produces materials for use on Boehner’s leadership website, among other GOP resources. Many are public documents, which can be accessed at the leadership website. The ELC meetings are closed door and off the record.
“It must have been like being back in the Reagan era,” says a House Republican member, who was not present at the meeting, but heard about the McCotter-Dreier argument from a colleague. “I think it was a microcosm of the challenges we’re facing as a party, and that’s why I think we need to air it out a bit.”
Present at the meeting on that day were Reps. Boehner, Dreier, Blunt, McCotter, Putnam and Cole, though Blunt, according to knowledgeable sources, was not present during the discussion in question. On the table was a document entitled, “The House GOP Security Agenda,” which included boiler plate language and bulleted position points on domestic and international security issues, and the ELC members were asked to provide feedback on the final draft.
According to knowledgeable sources, during the discussion Dreier, who is ranking member of the House Rules Committee, expressed concerns about a reference to “Communist China” in the report. “He said it was just jabbing at China and that it raised the specter of the Cold War,” says the House leadership aide. “And he and Boehner tried to laugh it off as a term that [former House member] Chris Cox used to throw around all the time.”
McCotter, who has been publicly critical of the Bush Administration’s engagement position on Communist China, countered, according to the leadership aide, that using the term “Communist China” was wholly appropriate, particularly given China’s horrific human rights record and recent provocative attempts to infiltrate the U.S. Defense Department’s computer networks, as well as the computers of Members of Congress that had sensitive Chinese human rights data stored in them.
“Basically, McCotter was saying, ‘Cold War behavior deserves a Cold War term,’” says the leadership aide.
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