The Journal Gazette
Friday, November 20, 2020 1:00 am

Banks tapped to lead largest conservative caucus

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

The largest caucus of congressional conservatives announced Thursday they had unanimously elected Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, as their next leader.

The Columbia City resident ran unopposed to chair the Republican Study Committee, which consists of 148 GOP members of the House. He will succeed Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., whose two-year term as chairman ends with the January start of the 117th Congress.

The Hill news organization reported that Banks wants Republicans to continue to embrace “Trumpism” even after Trump's defeat by President-elect Joe Biden.

“If we're going to win the (House) majority in 2022 and win the White House in 2024, our party has to look a lot more like Donald Trump than some of the Republican candidates in the past,” Banks told The Hill.

“Trump taught us how to fight and win with an agenda that appeals to a popular base. House conservatives must follow his example and carry the Trump message the next two years,” he said.

He told The Hill the message includes “appealing to working-class voters” and “how you rebuild manufacturing jobs in America, putting American workers first in trade deals and immigration policy.”

Although Democrats retained their House majority in the November election, Republicans gained at least eight seats. Democrats have a 222-205 advantage with eight seats still undecided.

Banks, 41, easily won re-election to a third term in his northeast Indiana district. He will follow Vice President Mike Pence, former Kendallville resident David McIntosh and Dan Burton as Hoosier lawmakers who have led the Republican Study Committee.

The conservative advocacy organization Club for Growth, of which McIntosh is president, tweeted Thursday that Banks “will be a strong leader for pro-growth policies and will fight for expanding economic freedom.”

Johnson said in a statement that Banks “will provide principled leadership for our caucus, maintain the structural improvements we've implemented the past two years, and help advance the important policy solutions that our members have developed.”

Banks chairs the group's Budget and Spending Task Force and is a member of its steering committee, which decides what legislation the caucus takes positions on. He announced his candidacy for caucus chairman in May and was endorsed by the group's executive committee in September.

“As the heart and soul of the conservative movement in the House, RSC is stronger than ever as we lead the fight for conservative values and push back against the radical socialist wing that controls the Democrat Party today,” Banks said Thursday in a statement. “We will have our work cut out for us, but I won't back down from the fight!”

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