Gingrich Under Fire From His Troops
House GOP faction calls for vote of confidence at meeting today
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 17) -- Disgruntled House Republicans will meet today with House Speaker Newt Gingrich to challenge his leadership of their caucus.
The meeting, which is closed to the media, stems from a letter written last week on the same day Republicans lost an embarrassing face-off against President Bill Clinton on the disaster-relief bill.
"We call for an immediate meeting of the conference for the purpose of invoking a vote of confidence on our current leadership," the letter said. It is not known who wrote or who signed the letter.
"How can we survive when we are led down the road of confrontation with President Clinton only to have our leadership capitulate after political damage is done?" the letter asks.
The letter cites leadership "blunders" such as the budget impasse that led to extended government shutdowns in 1995. "Who is in charge of the strategy that led to the blunder? Who is in charge of the communications that fueled the blunder?" it asks.
A dissatisfied House Republican told CNN the dissent is coming from about 50 unhappy Republicans, largely conservative members elected in 1994. They are afraid of two things, the member said: "[B]eing ousted, and blurring the differences between us and them," meaning the Democrats.
"You have to respect the moderates but you don't have to capitulate," the Republican said.
The member said it's "fair" to describe this as "the beginning of the end," but noted that "the end may be down the road, like the next Congress," which begins in 1999. The member said the speaker needs to improve, and "if he doesn't, he may be removed."
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