"It's embarrassing": Republicans worry they have "zero accomplishments" to run on in elections

"We keep doing the same stupid stuff," Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said on the House floor last week

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published January 22, 2024 2:11PM (EST)

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) confers with U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) during a news conference in the Rayburn Room of the U.S. Capitol November 7, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) confers with U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) during a news conference in the Rayburn Room of the U.S. Capitol November 7, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Republicans are concerned they have few accomplishments to run on in 2024, and according to NBC News, it's coming from the horse's mouth.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., set the tone at the start of the new year during a candid interview with far-right network Newsmax. 

“We have nothing. In my opinion, we have nothing to go out there and campaign on,” Biggs said. “It’s embarrassing.”

Anchor Anchor Chris Salcedo responded in agreement, saying that “the Republican Party in the Congress majority has zero accomplishments.”

As noted by NBC, the discussion underscores the GOP's fraught state. The party has been plagued by infighting at the Congressional level — most notably with the public ousting of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., — and has failed to make nearly any headway on passing legislation, often rebuffing opportunities to broker deals with Democrats because the proposed laws are not conservative enough. NBC cited three recent deals in spending, immigration, and tax, but observed how none of these measures are likely to become law because of unrelenting gripes from the far-right.

Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has already faced a barrage of criticism from his party for being open to compromises with Democrats, such as the spending deal he recently cut with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Referring to the far-right sect who oppose any sort of bipartisan collaboration, former acting Speaker Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said he thinks Johnson should “should seek wider counsel than the loudest people who line up in the queue." 

“If we keep extending the pain and creating more suffering, we will pay the price at the ballot box. But if we can get on with governance, and get the best policy wins we can, then you can open-field this thing,” McHenry said. “But at this point, we are sucking wind because we can’t get past the main object in the road. Once we get past that main object, then it’s the president’s performance on the economy, it’s the president’s performance on national security. We need to get the hell out of the way, cut the best deals we can get. And then get on with the political year.”

Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. noted the sparse list of achievements since the GOP assumed the House majority, calling it "damn thin."

“It would be really nice if they could hang their hat on some accomplishment,” said Cramer, who also warned of negative consequences if House Republicans bungle an immigration deal. “It would be ironic if the thing that prevented them from being able to hang their hat on a good immigration or border security policy would be the election because it could be the only thing that might save some of them,” he said. “The whole ‘burden of governing’ thing that I was hopeful would weigh heavily enough on them to get serious hasn’t worked so far.”

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"The big accomplishments here are what we stopped, not what we got done," claimed House Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole, R-Okla. “Certainly so far we’ve avoided shutting down the government; that’s no small achievement,” he said. “I actually think that House races are going to be shaped more by the presidential race than they are by anything that happens here. The country is very evenly divided. I don’t think very many people are going to vote for one guy for president and a person of a different party for their local congressman or congresswoman.”

Though he faced criticism from fellow Republicans for his remarks, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told NBC that he maintains his views “because nothing’s been delivered yet — no final product.”

“By the way, it does not matter who’s sitting in the speaker’s seat or who’s got the majority,” Roy said from the House floor last week. “We keep doing the same stupid stuff.”

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Back in the fall, shortly after McCarthy was pushed out of the House speakership by a far-right coup, Roy made headlines with a scathing takedown of his colleagues. 

“I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing — one! — that I can go campaign on and say we did. One!” Roy shouted from the House floor. “Anybody sitting in the complex, you want to come down to the floor and come explain to me one material, meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done besides, ‘Well, I guess it’s not as bad as the Democrats.’”

Despite grim reactions to the GOP's performance (or lack thereof), some Republicans are holding out hope for the party's future.

“If we can do the tax bill, and if we can do the appropriation bills ... if we can do something to actually strengthen the border ... then I think that would be a highly, highly, highly successful Congress,” said Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, R-Fla., a senior appropriator. Republican Party campaign chief Rep. Richard Hudson, N.C., said his party has “legislative accomplishments coming out of the House,” referencing two Republican measures to increase fossil fuel energy production and a “parents’ bill of rights.” However, as NBC noted, neither bill has gained traction in the Senate, which is headed by Democrats.

“I think we’ve got a record to run on,” Hudson said.

Democrats have likewise called out the GOP's lukewarm roster of achievements in recent months. 

“I think people are paying attention to that,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., chair of the House Democratic Caucus, in an interview. “This is clearly a Republican conference where the only thing that brings them together are impeachments and censures. That’s what they’re about because they can’t pass an agenda. They can’t do anything substantively to help the American people. And so we plan on making that an issue throughout the year.”

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Brief Chip Roy Kevin Cramer Kevin Mccarthy Mike Johnson Pete Aguilar Politics