Republicans are energized by their sweep of Congress and the White House on election night, but some in the House GOP conference are wary of how their leadership will actually govern.
Rep. Dave Brat, the hardline Virginia Republican who upset House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014, pressured Paul Ryan and GOP leaders Wednesday to pass sweeping conservative legislation that goes beyond Ryan's "Better Way" plan and harnessed Donald Trump's campaign pledges.
"We're challenging our leadership," Brat said in an interview with SiriusXM radio host Andrew Wilkow. "Let's do the Paul Ryan agenda, but you've got to do the Donald Trump agenda with it."
Brat, an early Trump supporter, has long been a darling of Breitbart and right-wing talk radio for his tough illegal immigration stance during his surprise victory over Cantor. Brat noted that establishment leaders had missed Trump's "revolution" and that he was eyeing Ryan and others cautiously on immigration, trade, and Trump's pledge to change Washington.
"So far it's pretty quiet on those huge, transformational issues that won us a new map and a new chance at Republican life going forward," Brat said. "Hopefully Trump keeps out front on that agenda because this is our last chance."
Brat added that Ryan's "Better Way" proposals fell short of the conservative overhaul that voters expected from Trump's victory: "It's not the stuff that fueled and animated the election. It's not what won us Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania."
"On trade, our leadership is still—there's a few little sprinklings coming out here and there that we're still maybe looking at TPP and doing big, massive trade deals," Brat said, while he expressed frustration that House leaders hadn't brought immigration bills to the floor earlier.
Asked if House leaders had "learned anything" from Trump's victory, Brat responded, "That's what we're trying to detect."
Nathaniel Meyersohn is a political reporting intern and is based in New York.
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