It's likely to be a tough week in the House as lawmakers struggle to get the majority they need to keep the government operating.
Outgoing speaker John Boehner says he's willing to reach across the aisle to close a deal. Meanwhile, a joint poll from NBC and The Wall Street Journal put Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio in the lead with voters, with Carly Fiorina trailing close behind.
With three political outsiders topping the list, one thing seems clear: GOP voters want fresh faces and stronger stances. But the party has become polarized in recent years, and many are worried that division in the ranks could continue to gum-up the House and hurt conservatives heading into 2016.
Mary-Briana Perez is a junior at the University of Southern California, and a member of the student-led organization, USC GOP. She says she’s not surprised by Boehner’s recent decision to step down.
“There has been a lot of pressure from both sides of the party for speaker Boehner to resign,” she says. “But I was saddened too. I think that he was -- amidst different opinions -- someone who could really reach across the aisle and make compromise.”
She adds that Boehner had ‘a good heart.’
Fellow young conservative Zachary Hayes sees the outbound speaker differently, however. Hayes is the president of the student-run Loyola Marymount Republicans.
“I felt that he was not quite a strong enough leader for the times,” Hayes explains. “He would have been better, perhaps, before this era of polarization really manifested itself during the Obama Administration. He just wasn’t strong enough for the GOP … so I feel that it was better that he went.”
In an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation this weekend, Boehner lambasted ultra conservatives who ‘whip people into a frenzy,’ believing they can accomplish things that ‘they know are never going to happen.’ Hayes says these conservative factions may have been a little overzealous, but for good reason. “I feel like they’re tapping into a feeling of anger that’s really resonating with conservative activists … Even if Boehner may be right pragmatically, he’s not in touch with people’s emotions, and that’s what counts,” he says.
He adds that it remains to be seen just what the Tea Party’s legacy will be in the House. “I think it depends on where the county goes in 2016, and if Republican majorities are expanded, or if they’re still in power in both houses of Congress,” he says.
USC GOP member Mary Perez disagrees, however. She says that most people see Tea Partiers as people who are willing to shut down the government to achieve their aims. “I don’t personally think that those members of congress advocating for a government shutdown is something we should looked at in a positive light,” she says.
When host A. Martinez pointed out this divide in opinion, Hayes says, it’s to be expected. “I feel like it’s just indicative of the split,” he says. “The Republican Party is not quite sure where it wants to go: more conservative or potentially more moderate.”
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