Graves Recaps 2023 and Discusses GOP Agenda for Remainder of 118th Congress

Urges colleagues “to unite for things that actually make sense and are in America’s interest.”

WASHINGTON, DC – In remarks Monday evening before a dinner meeting of The Ripon Society, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (LA-06) reflected on the first half of the 118th Congress, and what House Republicans can do to strengthen their majority and their relationship with the American people in the coming months.

“We watched last year as rules were going down because folks in the majority weren’t voting for them and [were] using it as leverage because we had this razor-thin majority,” stated Graves in his opening remarks. “We watched for the first time in American history we vacated the Chair [and] threw out the Speaker of the House.

“It was an absolutely awful idea. Here we are with a Republican majority on paper, yet we are four months into the FY ‘24, and we are still operating under riders and budget level numbers that were negotiated by Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden.”

Graves, who has been a Member of the House since 2015 and serves on both the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and Natural Resources Committee, proved to be a staunch ally of ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“After we threw out the Speaker of the House, we chewed up approximately a dozen members of the Republican Conference. … I want to be clear that that wasn’t just a nothing burger. There’s scar tissue with a lot of those people that ran for Speaker and didn’t get there. There were little battles that occurred between some of these candidates.”

Graves delved into the damage Kevin McCarthy’s removal did to both the party and Congress as a whole – particularly when it came to setting a federal budget.

“We’ve done CR after CR and we’ve actually lost leverage compared to where we were back in September [and] October of last year. This whole thing has been a disaster, and it was not something that was necessary.”

Further elaborating on the strife caused by removing the Speaker of the House, he compared the leaders of the three branches of government and noted that in order to remove two of the three, there are checks and balances in place, but for the legislative branch, it only takes one Member to file a motion to vacate.

On a positive note, Graves brought up what he considers one of House Republicans’ “biggest accomplishments last year” – negotiating the debt ceiling.

“We went in, and we negotiated and calibrated our ask with the leverage that we had. We didn’t go in and ask for the sun, moon, and stars. We calibrated our ask with our leverage that resulted in what I think [is] a pretty good conservative win – cutting spending by $2.1 trillion, the largest spending reduction in American history.”

The Pelican State lawmaker pivoted to the power of social media and some of the unachievable promises, such as record-low energy costs and a zero-tolerance illegal immigration policy, that his colleagues have made but will not be able to deliver given that Republicans only control one facet of the federal legislature.

“What we found ourselves in the Republican conference doing, is going down this path where we mislead the American public and made them believe that we can achieve this.”

Graves also shared that it is often those with the loudest voices or, in this case, social media platforms that are making these false promises.

“And these are the people that are out there with millions of social media followers, that are out there setting false narratives and then acting on them. Said another way, completely just lying and misleading the American people and then acting on it.”

Returning to the three branches of the federal government, Graves praised the Framers, but pointed out that, “there’s one flaw in what they did – no one really thought about what happens when one of them becomes entirely dysfunctional.

“And that would be us, the Congress, in this instance. … When you have a void, the other [branches] are trying to step in and fill the void because we’ve become so dysfunctional. We’ve done this to ourselves.

“If you’re a citizen and you’ve got a problem or concern with what’s happened with government, are you picking up the phone and calling Joe Biden? Are you picking up the phone and calling Chief Justice Roberts? No, you’re calling your Member of Congress, the person that represents you. And if that branch of government is completely stagnant or dysfunctional, then the people are the ones that suffer.

“The whole representation of what’s in the best interest of the American public is being doused right now by this dysfunction in government, by this civil war that is happening within our own party, and to some degree within the Congress, where politics reigns instead of what’s best for the country.”

Graves then summarized George Washington’s farewell speech, “You’re going to see political parties do things for themselves, as opposed to doing things for the people. And I think we’re seeing that now in some of the dumb decisions that are being made by parties or by factions of parties.”

To combat these “dumb decisions,” the Louisiana native urged his conservative colleagues to bring the unity they had in the minority into the majority.

“I think that we have to take on a characteristic of the minority and unite against bad ideas. Unite for things that actually make sense and are in America’s interest.”

On account of the billions of tax dollars that have been lost due to congressional inaction, Graves called the entire thing “outrageous.”

“It’s harming Americans in so many ways. But because we can’t unite, because we can’t exercise leverage, we can’t calibrate our leverage, we’re stuck with it, and we’re not getting wins there.”

On a final note, Graves offered some sage advice for his fellow Members of Congress going forward.

“Recognize that you’re not going to get a grand slam every hit. You’re not going to get a touchdown every play, but you’ve got to have a strategy and you have to articulate it to the conference on how that three-yard run, how that double is going to advance you to your ultimate goal. And make sure we’re being honest with the American public as we do it.”

To view Graves’ remarks before The Ripon Society this past Monday evening, please click the link below:

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.