Stutzman May Be Righteous Warrior But Not at Odds with Leadership
Erick Erickson wrote a highlighted piece on RedState yesterday describing Indiana Congressman Marlin Stutzman (R-Howe) as a “righteous warrior.” This description was largely credited due to Rep. Stutzman losing his leadership position for “supporting limited government” because he “refused to vote for the farm bill.” In the past Erickson has taken removal from the whip team as proof that you’re at odds with the House leadership. What Erickson doesn’t point out in his piece is that Stutzman is not exactly on the outs with the leadership and the farm bill debate hasn’t really done anything to shrink the size of government.
This story has been passed around the online and traditional media quite a bit over the last few days. Rep. Stutzman opposed the leadership on the rule for the farm bill because they did not rule his amendment to split the to consider its sections on agriculture programs and nutrition programs separately. He then joined a group of Republicans opposing final passage of the farm bill and because a number of Democrats, traditionally supporters of the bill, didn’t agree with the cuts to the nutrition program in the original farm bill, the legislation failed to pass the House of Representatives. Consequently he was removed from the Whip Team, where he served as an Assistant Whip, because a key job requirement is that members of the whip team must support the majority position on key votes.
There are various levels to the structure of the Whip Team and there is no official list published, but generally speaking there is a chief deputy, several deputies, and a whole mess of assistants. The perk is that you get to put “Assistant Whip” on your official letterhead, which may be why this story started making the rounds. Rep. Stutzman has indicated his removal from the whip team wasn’t a big deal, as he relayed this conversation to Brian Francisco of the Journal Gazette:
Stutzman said Monday he still is on good terms with House leaders, including Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “Kevin pulled me to the side and said, ‘Hey, you voted against the rule, you’re off the whip team,’ and I said, ‘I understand,’ ” Stutzman recalled. “He said, ‘I still want to work together,’ and I said, ‘Same here.’ “
In fact, Rep. McCarthy is joining Rep. Stutzman in October for a $1,000 per head fundraiser at the Lucas Estate supporting his Political Action Committee. There’s no animosity between Rep. Stutzman and the leadership team. After the farm bill failed they worked with him to split the bill and passed a “farm-only farm bill” with Rep. Stutzman’s support and his informal help whipping the bill. Unfortunately the split bill did absolutely nothing toward achieving the reforms envisioned by splitting the bill – they passed the same farm bill with the same programs with no discussion or debate on reforming the measure. As I pointed out at the time, the leadership finally picked up on what Rep. Stutzman was advocating for, but failed to follow through to actually achieve any real change.
The end result of all this is the farm bill is in conference committee so the House and Senate can resolve differences between the two versions of the bill that passed. By the way, the Senate never split the bill, so the nutrition programs are in the conference discussion. Even without the nutrition discussion, Scott Lincicome points out at The Federalist, the actual farm programs under discussion still represent massive government spending.