Washington — In an effort to advance a more tightly focused conservative viewpoint in the U.S. House, Rep. John Fleming, of Minden, is helping to organize a caucus to push the Republican majority rightward.
“What we want to do is be a positive force to mold policy in the Republican conference in a conservative direction,” Fleming said Tuesday.
The Republican conference is the term the party uses for its 247-member majority in the 435-member House. More than half of the Republicans — about 170 in the previous Congress — belong to the Republican Study Committee, which dates to 1973 and was originally organized with a goal similar to the one Fleming described for his nascent group.
But Fleming, who is a member of the RSC, said that organization has become too diverse and offers little to distinguish it from the conference as a whole.
“It’s very popular to be called a conservative these days,” he said. “A lot of people like to be affiliated with a conservative group, but one not as focused on conservatism as a smaller group would be.”
Fleming is considered one of the most conservative House Republicans, and has differed from the party’s House leadership on several issues, including immigration.
He said he and Mark Meadows, of North Carolina, and Jim Jordan, of Ohio, form the nucleus of the new organization, and they have enlisted a half dozen other Republicans as members of its board. But the organizers have met just once and have yet to pick a name or settle on a specific mission statement, Fleming said.
Fleming envisions that the caucus will include 30 to 40 members, with the aim of providing a clear conservative voice with which to speak to the House Republican leadership.
Fleming, 63, was elected to his fourth two-year term in the House in November. He has said he intends to run for the U.S. Senate in 2016 if the incumbent, David Vitter, is successful in his bid to be elected governor this year and leaves Congress.
Follow Gregory Roberts on Twitter @GregRobertsDC. For more coverage of government and politics, follow The Advocate Politics Blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/.