“It’s our job to make sure we show the public that Republicans can govern.”

Emmer & Reschenthaler Talk About Republican Whip Operation & Express Optimism about GOP Prospects in 2024

WASHINGTON, DC — In remarks yesterday before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society, U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer (MN-6) and Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) looked back on some of the key things House Republicans were able to accomplish over the past 12 months, and expressed optimism that — after a chaotic end to 2023 — the party will come together to govern and build on their majority in 2024.

Emmer serves as Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives, while Reschenthaler serves as Chief Deputy Whip.  Together, they oversee an operation that is responsible for not only gauging the support of Republican Members for a particular policy or proposal, but persuading those Members to support the position of the Republican Majority when a particular policy or proposal comes to the House Floor for a vote.

“We have a great team and it showed through the beginning of the year,” Emmer stated, kicking off the discussion.  “We had major successes through the first part of the 118th Congress.  And we continued to win all throughout the year.

“After three weeks [without a Speaker], we put Mike Johnson in as speaker. And I’m going to tell you — he’s the right guy at the right time. And he’s doing the right things, as you’re going to see this week, against all odds. It’s our job to make sure we show the public that Republicans can govern. We’re going to do that in the coming year.”

Reschenthaler agreed, and began his remarks by reviewing some of the key House Republican accomplishments over the past 12 months.

“I’m thrilled about what we’ve been able to accomplish this year,” the Pennsylvania lawmaker stated.  “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, to put it mildly. But beyond the debt ceiling, we also passed the first Republican NDAA ever. I remember I was in a room with a bunch of folks, and when I said that we were going to pass it with 218 Republican votes, I got laughed at. It was good natured, but no one believed that we were going to pass an NDAA with all Republican votes. And we got it done.

“We also passed H.R.1, a key piece of legislation to unleash American energy. We passed H.R. 2, which was our border bill. People thought we couldn’t pass it. It was the first border bill we passed since the early-to-mid-1990s.  We passed that again with Republican votes, and it helped us put our marker down.  What’s so important, and what Tom and I focus on, is we don’t whip Democratic votes. Our philosophy is we want 218 Republican votes on every bill, every time.”

“What that does is it gives us the ability to produce legislation that’s conservative and send it to the Senate. Then step 2 — which is the important step and what we’re dealing with now with the NDAA — is we have a conference bill. We have a conference bill that we want to pass with the majority of the Majority.  So, it’s an important two-step process, but it’s critical that we have that first step — where we get 218 Republican votes as a team, and we’re producing conservative legislation to start the negotiation.”

Following their opening remarks, Emmer and Reschenthaler took a number of questions, including one about the current political environment and how the House Republican Whip team approaches their job.

“We don’t have the tools that you had 20 years ago around here,” Emmer observed.  “We have people who can use the 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week entertainment soundbite news networks to elevate their own brand. So we take the approach that: 1) you’ve got to take care of the people who put you here first; and 2) you’ve got to take care of yourself.  Once you can do those two things, then we can work with you as to how we make sure this is in your best interest for the people that you’re representing back home. And we’ve been very successful with that.”

Reschenthaler agreed, and compared the House GOP’s “bottom up” leadership style with the approach taken by those across the aisle.

“The Democratic Party is top-down leadership,” he said.  “You get orders from on high.  You’ve got Pelosi, or Hakeem now, and their lieutenants.  They have a lot of sticks over there because so much of the money is tied up in Democratic leadership. I think we have a better system.  It’s uglier and it’s messier, but I think we produce better bills because of it. So we have a bottom up leadership style.

“You see that in a lot of the listening sessions that the Whip and I do, where you have all these different opinions. You have southern Evangelicals.  You have northeastern Republicans. You have Midwesterners.  You have a few folks who have a very strong Libertarian streak. And they come together, they battle it out, they tell leadership what they want, and we get a product that, again, can get 218 Republican votes — votes that are reflective of the Conference at large and the Republican party at large, because we’re a big tent party.”

The two lawmakers were also asked their thoughts about Republican prospects in the election next year.

“I think we’re in a position to not only hold our Majority, but to expand it,” said Emmer, who served two successful terms as Chairman of the National Congressional Committee prior to his election as Majority Whip.  “If you look across the country, the issues are in alignment with the Republican Party. And if you put the right message together with the right candidate — who is going into their neighborhoods, going into their communities and actually selling it — you can win.

“Look at Myra Flores down in Texas. She lost the district by the slimmest of margins to Vicente Gonzalez. Today, they’re in a virtual heat. You think border security doesn’t matter there?  You think crime doesn’t matter in New York?  Each one of our districts is different, and we’ve got opportunities all across the map.”

Reschenthaler concurred, and said that Emmer’s experience as NRCC Chair makes him well-suited to serve as Majority Whip.

“Tom opened this discussion by saying that Mike Johnson is the right man at the right time to lead the Conference,” he said.  “Post-McCarthy, Tom is the right man at the right time to be the Whip.  We have to remember that Whip Emmer led the NRCC for two cycles, and we were able to expand our numbers and take the majority during that time.  Tom has the ability to talk about swing districts. He knows what votes people can take and not take.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.