GOP Rep. Darrell Issa rendered Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speechless by jokingly suggesting that he hire conservative members opposed to to a debt ceiling increase, saying that leaving may help them change their minds the same way Mulvaney did when he left Congress.
Mulvaney — a former member of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) — and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made an appearance at the House GOP’s conference meeting Friday in an attempt to sway conservative lawmakers to vote for the measure. House conservatives in both the Republican Study Committee and the HFC have been highly critical of linking the two issues, having long argued for spending cuts to be attached to legislation increasing the federal borrowing limit.
HFC Chairman Mark Meadows said he was “perplexed” that Mulvaney — a former fiscal hawk — was pushing for a bill he likely wouldn’t have voted for during his time in the House. The North Carolina told reporters that Issa’s comment was the “best line I’ve heard in five years.”
“He said, ‘Perhaps what we could do is get 42 of our GOP members to come over and be your deputies and start to change their thinking like you’ve changed your thinking as the director,'” Meadows said. “It was the only time I’ve seen Director Mulvaney quiet and speechless in at least five years.”
Issa said his comments were half in jest, but he feels it could be beneficial for hard-line members to meet with the administration in terms of getting them to negotiate on certain issues.
“I genuinely was suggesting that he get 42 members of the Freedom Caucus and have him over from time to time and talk about the art of the possible,” Issa told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “But I was doing it the way in which everyone in the conference got to enjoy.”
Issa said he hopes that members can learn from Mulvaney’s new perspective and work together with the administration to accomplish their legislative agenda.
“Mulvaney is now in a position from where he has to ask us to do things, and I was trying to humorously bring together the two sides,” Issa said. “We have to understand where my Mick sits right now and help him achieve his goals. He has to recognize that he wouldn’t vote for the current goal, and there has to be some sort of a coming together.”
The California Republican noted that this isn’t the first time he’s seen a conservative member of Congress advocate for a policy that didn’t align with their ideology as a legislator.
“When we had the crash in the TARP bill Vice President [Dick] Cheney — one of the more conservative members of the House when he was here — had to come in and explain why we should give them $800 billion of walking around money with essentially no control,” Issa said. “And the one thing I knew is as he said they are technically saying you should do it, he really was saying you should do it but I would have voted no.”
Mulvaney would not comment on whether he would have voted for the bill. The legislation passed in a 316-90 vote.
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