WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Banks now sits at the head of the U.S. House’s largest Republican caucus.
Banks, R-3rd, was elected in an unopposed race for the chairmanship of the Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus of conservatives within the House of Representatives.
Founded in 1973, the Republican Study Committee previously has been chaired by prominent conservative congressmen including Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Indiana’s Mike Pence during his time in Congress before becoming Indiana governor and vice president.
The newly minted chair, Banks said that under his leadership in the 117th congress, the RSC will provide “conservative counterprogramming” to what he described as a far-left agenda pushed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) “squad” in the House — despite the four women of that group holding no major leadership positions in the Democratic majority.
Democrats re-elected Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California for the next Congress.
Democrats lost some seats in the House, slimming their majority, but still have enough seats to control the chamber for the next two years. Democrats have controlled the House for two years after Republicans lost their majority in 2018 following the first two years of the Trump administration.
“The Republican Study Committee will provide conservative counterprogramming to the Squad’s socialist agenda,” Banks said. “We will provide the American people an alternative, conservative legislative agenda that appeals to a large, popular base and carry out the Trump agenda when we win back the House in 2022.”
Banks said he plans to leverage Speaker Pelosi’s slim majority with hopes of implementing fiscally responsible legislation that is the tradition of the RSC, in light of what he says is “out-of-control” spending under the Democratic majority.
Federal deficits have increased every year during the Trump administration, including during 2017 and 2018 when Republicans controlled the House. They have continued increasing in the two years since Democrats have held the House.
“The Republican Study Committee’s traditional signature issue is writing a fiscally responsible budget, and we’ll have significant leverage over Democrats who understand we’re approaching a fiscal cliff. Especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, out-of-control spending has become an urgent necessity that Congress must address as quickly as possible,” Banks said. “Additional issues that I will be advocating RSC execute out of the gate include a campaign to reform Section 230, protect the historically bipartisan Hyde amendment, and protect the Trump-era defense spending levels from cuts.”
Last week, Banks also was elected to serve as a regional representative of the U.S. House Republican Steering Committee for the 117th Congress.
Banks was elected by his peers in Region VI, which is comprised of all Republican representatives from the states of Indiana and Illinois. He replaces Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who retires from Congress this year.
The Steering Committee is made up of 35 members of the Republican Conference, including elected members of the leadership team, regional representatives, members representing Congressional classes, at-large members, and a rotating seat for committee chairs. The Steering Committee is responsible for making committee assignments for Republican members of the House and selecting Republicans for committee leadership.
Republicans in the House still likely still will struggle accomplish priorities from the minority, especially considering President-elect Joe Biden is expected to take over the White House in 2021.
President Donald Trump is continuing to contest the results of the 2020 election, which he lost by 5 million votes in the popular vote and by an electoral count of 306-232, alleging instances of massive voter fraud despite having a string of losses in court contests so far.
Control of the U.S. Senate is not settled and will depend on the outcome of two statewide runoff elections in Georgia.
Republicans will maintain control of the upper house if the GOP wins either of the runoffs. But if Democrats were to win both, the balance would be even at 50-50, with ties set to be broken by Democratic Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, assuming the expected transition to the Biden administration.