House Republican leaders were given a boost Wednesday when the Club for Growth, an influential conservative group, decided to withdraw its “key vote” against the government funding bill.
“The Club for Growth is withdrawing its key vote against the FY15 Continuing Resolution,” wrote Andy Roth, the group’s vice president for government affairs, in a memo to House members. “While we remain strongly opposed to the CR and to the language extending the charter of the Export-Import Bank (among other things), the addition of the ISIS language does not make this a revealing vote about economic policy. Instead, it will be largely driven by foreign policy, something the Club for Growth does not take an official position on.”
A "key vote" is part of how activist groups make demands and score lawmakers' ideological purity. When one highlights a piece of legislation as a "key vote," it means it is advising its allies on Congress to follow its lead, and warning that breaking from the group's line will cause a drop in a lawmaker's rating.
In previous government funding debates, the organization’s opposition to extensions had been a thorn in the side of the speaker and an obstacle to the Republican whips.
The broader retreat by many conservative groups reluctant to make a major stand on the government funding vote, a year after they cheered on an impasse that led to a 16-day shutdown, reflects the muddled nature of Wednesday's floor activities, and gives the leadership a newly cleared path to pick up support from the right flank in the final pre-vote hours.
By day’s end, urgency on foreign policy and a lack of political theater on domestic policy is expected to yield strong majorities for the amendment to the government funding bill that would authorize the arming and training of moderate Syrian rebels, and for the continuing resolution.
“I don't think we'll say no to very specific training for Syrian rebels," said Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.). "People are frustrated with the president but the votes will be there."