Jul 20, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House Republicans praise Mike Pence for "courage" on Jan. 6

 Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks to a crowd of supporters
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks to a crowd of supporters in June. Photo: Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

House Republicans praised former Vice President Mike Pence during a Wednesday meeting on Capitol Hill, lauding him for his "courage" and handling of certifying the 2020 election results on Jan. 6, multiple sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios.

Why it matters: The meeting of the Republican Study Committee — the largest bloc of House conservatives — puts many GOP members at odds with former President Trump, who has consistently attacked Pence for defying him on Jan. 6 by refusing to overturn the presidential election.

What to watch: Pence's visit comes as the former VP is ramping up travel ahead of his likely 2024 presidential campaign.

  • Both Trump and Pence will host rallies in Arizona on Friday for two rival candidates in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
  • Pence is also slated to deliver a policy speech in D.C. on July 25, a day before Trump returns to the capital for the first time since his presidency ended to headline an event for the America First Policy Institute.

What we're hearing: Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) stood up during the meeting and told Pence: "I just want to say thank you for defending our Constitution. I’m happy to shout it from Mar-A-Lago to Bedminster … but I just want you to know how grateful we are," two people in the room tell Axios.

  • Other members clapped after Roy finished speaking, one of the people in the room said.

Details: Pence, a former RSC chairman, came to Capitol Hill to discuss his "Freedom Agenda" — which lays out his recommendations for Republicans if they take back the majority next year.

  • Pence told the room that presenting an agenda will galvanize their supporters and provide Republicans with a real mandate, the sources said.
  • Detailing his agenda — a copy of which his team handed out to members — Pence specifically emphasized "American values," "restoring the economy," the 2017 Trump tax cuts, "energy independence" and "muscular foreign policy."
  • "It's outstanding. It really meets the moment," Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) told reporters. "He's always been an advocate for House Republicans, an advocate for the Republican Study committee."
  • "The vice president is a real moral force in our party. He's a real true leader, and he's earned the respect of Republicans and other Americans all over this country," Barr added.

Pence was invited to speak by the current RSC chair, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) — an outspoken Trump supporter. Pence was initially scheduled to meet with RSC in June, but the event was postponed to July.

  • The RSC has met with Trump twice — once at the border and once at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, according to the committee.

The big picture: Other potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates who have met with the RSC include:

  • Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri
  • Sen. Rick Scott of Florida
  • Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida
  • Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas
  • Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
  • Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Go deeper: Read Pence's agenda, obtained by Axios.

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