In House, a band of new rebels
Republicans who are standing up to Bush range from conservatives to moderates.
After dubbing President Bush's "open door" border policy a threat to national security, Rep. Tom Tancredo says, he got a call from Bush aide Karl Rove proposing that he never again "darken the doorstep of the White House." He's glad that the non-invite apparently didn't extend to the annual congressional Christmas party.
"It means a lot to my wife," quips the third-term Colorado Republican, who attended the White House event Monday.
There's no question that a public rift with a Republican president is a tough career move for any aspiring GOP lawmaker. But for Mr. Tancredo, who came to the House after running a libertarian think tank in Golden, Colo., standing up for ideas is what politics is about - and for him, no policy is more vital than controlling borders and ending the "cult of multiculturalism" that sees the US as "groups of victimized classes."
This week, he joined 66 other House Republicans who voted against intelligence reforms over the issue of border-security. They didn't prevail, but their opposition slowed action on the measure and showed that some GOP lawmakers are ready to wield a new level of assertiveness in Bush's second term.
That doesn't mean the president faces an open revolt from within his party, but there is a new restiveness in Republican ranks on issues ranging from Social Security reform to national defense and the budget deficit. The new voices aren't the biggest names in the party. Some haven't been around long enough to bang a gavel. And party isn't their first loyalty.
"I'll never have any institutional power," Tancredo says. "I'll never be given a chairmanship. The only two things I have are my voice and my vote, and I have to use them as effectively as I can."
Before the Nov. 2 election, some would-be naysayers downplayed rifts with the White House, largely because they didn't want to see a Democrat naming Supreme Court Justices. Now, with President Bush heading into a second term, they're drawing lines in the sand for the 109th Congress, in which the GOP will enjoy a 29-seat House margin.