If temporarily deposed House Republican Leader Tom DeLay didn't like "Operation Offset" and its creators at the Republican Study Committee, led by Rep. Mike Pence, he surely hates it now.
That's because Pence and his budget-cutting plan probably helped propel Republican whip Rep. Roy Blunt into the temporary party leader post late today.
DeLay in meeting earlier in the day with Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, had asked that Rep. David Dreier be elevated to the leadership post. But instead, during a late afternoon caucus meeting, it was determined by Republicans that Blunt would take the post.
There is bad blood between DeLay and Blunt, in part due to sheer power politics, and an attempt by DeLay loyalists to embarrass Blunt last year by airing dirty laundry from Blunt's personal life to reporters at the Washington Post. The reason insiders gave then was that DeLay felt Blunt was getting too big for his britches as whip and needed to be brought down a few notches.
So how does "Operation Offset" come into play here? Yesterday, Blunt and other party leaders met with Pence to discuss how best to implement some of the Republican Study Committee's spending cut recommendations. Blunt has previously helped Pence and his fiscal conservatives beat back budget appropriations issues earlier this year, a victory that burned DeLay.
Right now up on Capitol Hill, fiscal conservatives are feeling pretty good about their chances of getting their cuts at least considered by the full House with Blunt in the leadership chair.
And Blunt ought to be feeling pretty good, too. "If Roy actually gets something done that brings these spending bills pulled back a bit, it isn't far-fetched that we won't see support for him growing even if Tom comes back free and clear of his problems," says an RSC member.
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