House GOP at 2014 crossroads: Go big or keep quiet?

According to sources with knowledge of the deliberations, Boehner and his leadership team prefer a quiet, non-controversial legislative session in which Republicans steer clear of mistakes and run out the clock until the November elections. This play-it-safe strategy hinges on voters turning out in droves to voice their displeasure for President Obama’s health care law and his administration’s domestic surveillance policies, among other things.

But such an approach is unacceptable to the most conservative members of the House GOP. After two weeks of private deliberations, and fresh off a mini-retreat this week organized by the Republican Study Committee, conservatives are united in their resolve to make 2014 more about Republicans’ “bold, positive vision” and less about Obama’s failures.

“I’m convinced Republicans have the best vision for America’s future,” Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas said outside of Wednesday’s RSC meeting. “We’ve spent a lot of time opposing the president’s policies, but it’s time to share our vision if we want to win in November.”

That sentiment has echoed among conservative lawmakers all week, and it ramped up during the weekly RSC gathering. Chairman Steve Scalise, perhaps sensing the frustration some members felt with the RSC’s lack of aggression during the December budget fight, framed the legislative strategy debate in big terms. After consulting with his fellow lawmakers this week, Scalise informed members that he’s prepared to push leadership hard on the conservative agenda this year that touts a health care alternative, a tax reform plan, a welfare reform package, and a privacy bill.