WASHINGTON — It could prove an awkward encounter for Gov. Rick Perry as he heads to Washington on Wednesday to appear at a presidential candidate forum and meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill — lawmakers whose work hours and salaries he has proposed slashing.
Perry's campaign will hit the city he vows to shake up this week, and it remains unclear just how warm the reception will be from the lawmakers who have borne the brunt of his campaign rhetoric.
His trip will include at least one Capitol Hill appearance. At the invitation of U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, Perry will speak before the Congressional Health Care Caucus on Wednesday evening. Burgess, who backs former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for president, has invited a number of candidates to speak to the caucus, most recently Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson.
Burgess said he hopes the caucus events, like the one with Perry, will allow candidates to “talk to members of Congress about what their health policy aspirations are.”
The Perry campaign has also organized a briefing for conservative lawmakers on the Hill, and U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., has been inviting his colleagues to attend, according to an aide.
Last month, in an effort to revive his flagging campaign, Perry unveiled a proposal to cut lawmakers’ pay and make the legislative branch a “part-time Congress.”
“I’m going to put forward some very dramatic reforms for a Congress that not only spends too much but is in Washington too much,” he said at the time.
Burgess said he had not spoken to Perry about the idea. Through a representative, Burgess said, “The legislative branch has already given too much power to the executive branch.”
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock — who has endorsed Perry — didn't dismiss Perry's part-time Congress plan but said more details are necessary. “What do you mean by that?” said John Stone, Carter's spokesman. “Every other year? Three months at the start of each year?”
Because the state has a biennial legislature, he said, it's not an alien thought for Texas lawmakers. “I think that's why a lot of folks from Texas, in particular, aren't automatically saying no,” Stone said.
Stone said Carter had been asked to meet with Perry and is “delighted” to do so. A representative for U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas — who has also endorsed Perry — said the congressman expects to see Perry on Wednesday.
An aide to one of Perry's most prominent supporters, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, said the congressman received an invitation to meet with Perry on Wednesday, but he was unsure whether his schedule would allow him to accept it.
Perry has picked up the support of many of the 25 Texas Republicans in Congress, but at least 10 remain uncommitted to any candidate.
The Republican Jewish Coalition said Perry and other candidates would appear at a forum Wednesday in Washington, which the organization billed as the “largest-ever gathering of Jewish Republican activists from around the country,” featuring audience questions.
Not included is Paul. The coalition has criticized his views on Israel-related aid and defense issues.