Forget Stefanik — Donalds represents a fresh start for conference chair

As seen in The Hill:

Republicans have railed against inflation for the past two years, inflation which is driven by lax Federal Reserve monetary policy and outrageous spending bills championed by Democrats. Congressional Republicans can easily do something about the latter. But as we have seen in the past decade, most Republicans find a way to abandon their principles when it comes to getting the spending in check. 

The incumbent House Republican Conference chair, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), may claim to be a leader on cutting spending. But the facts speak for themselves. Since being sworn-in in 2015, Stefanik has voted to spend trillions of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars. 

The conference chair is in charge of messaging. How are we supposed to believe GOP campaign rhetoric about cutting spending if the incumbent chair, Stefanik, is on record as one of the worst Republicans out there when it comes to frivolous spending? 

Americans overwhelmingly support cutting spending and balancing the budget. They like the GOP’s platform of fiscal responsibility. While inflation caused by reckless spending is the most pertinent issue facing the nation today, Republicans like Stefanik claim they will advance other pro-economy priorities. However, we should remember that Stefanik opposed President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which paved the way for the Trump economic boom. 

Recall also that Stefanik opposed President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement as part of his campaign promise to advance American energy independence. In one of his first executive actions in 2021, President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement as part of his overall agenda designed to undermine energy independence. 

As Republicans and many Americans grapple with how to tackle the abuses by the federal surveillance state, it’s worth pointing out that Stefanik voted in favor of FISA reauthorization in 2020. Stefanik’s was a vote to maintain the status quo when it comes to government surveillance. 

In fact, Stefanik voted with President Trump less than 70 percent of the time in 2019 and 2020, the seventh lowest score in the House GOP. 

Considering her past record, can we trust that Stefanik will be a leader who can connect with the conservative base? We need a conference chair who will help set and implement the conservative grassroots agenda for a new Republican majority, not someone who former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) considers his protege.

Stefanik’s conservative rhetoric is dependent on which way the political winds blow. House Republicans will need a conservative messenger who will not only lead the fight against Biden’s agenda, but who will also walk the walk. 

Why not show the country that House Republicans are serious about governing by making Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) conference chair? His announcement this week shows that at least some Republicans are serious about delivering on their campaign promises. 

Donalds is a steadfast champion of fiscal conservatism. Even as a House freshman, Donalds actually has a record to run on. Stefanik doesn’t. This session, Stefanik has a 69 percent on FreedomWorks’ Congressional Scorecard, compared to Donalds’ 92 percent score. The fact that 46 members of the House GOP conference — a non-insignificant number when it comes to passing bills — voted against her for conference chair after the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). With Donalds’ record, more Republicans should join forces and reject Stefanik. 

Too many Republicans are afraid to run on the issue of spending because that would mean actually governing how they campaign. They pay lip-service to the issue because Democrats have fumbled so badly on inflation. But when the dust settles after Nov. 8, spending will still be a serious issue. The GOP has an opportunity here to actually get serious and take on reckless spending in Washington. Politics as usual won’t cut it. Republicans should seize the moment and make Rep. Byron Donalds the House Republican Conference chair. 

Adam Brandon is the president of FreedomWorks