House Republican leaders privately conceded in a closed meeting Tuesday morning that they are in the midst of a full-blown fundraising crisis, which would imperil any chance they have at regaining their majority in 2020.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) put it bluntly: "They are kicking our ass," he said, in a meeting at the Capitol Hill Club, the private GOP haunt around the corner from the Capitol, referring to Democrats.
Indeed, McCarthy is right. The DCCC outraised the NRCC by $40 million in 2019, and individual Democratic candidates are besting their GOP opponents at an alarming rate. Democrats currently hold a 35-seat majority in the House, and there are five vacancies. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a House GOP-aligned super PAC, raised $32.6 million in 2019, and has a $28-million cash stash.
The disparity is even more shocking because the NRCC had a record off-year fundraising haul, but the DCCC has proven much more prolific.
McCarthy wasn't the only one who tried to jolt the Republicans to life. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) said, "You've gotta be raising your own money," and implored the lawmakers to pay their dues.
"My intention today is to sound a loud alarm," NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer of Minnesota said in the meeting. "We can't ignore the campaigns that need to get better with their individual fundraising. ... They're crushing us," Emmer said, referring to the DCCC.
At least one person was roused to action. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) -- who is leaving Congress to run for his state's governorship -- wrote a $250,000 check to the party committee during an altar call.
Coincidentally, Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, the chair of the DCCC, showed a closed meeting of Democrats a video of Emmer telling the Ripon Society that Democrats raised $40 million more than Republicans last year.
Amid growing anxieties about winning back the House this cycle, the NRCC recently tapped GOP strategist Jon Reedy to serve as a senior adviser — an unusual move in the middle of an election cycle.
The House GOP has been rocked by a slew of retirements this year: 22 and counting, including Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), the head of the NRCC’s recruitment efforts, as well as several veteran Republicans and GOP committee leaders.
Republicans, however, are hoping impeachment will energize the base in November. And some of the leading GOP players in the impeachment battle brought in record-breaking fundraising hauls in the last quarter.
“We have people doing good and great, but we need everyone to be exceptional,” Emmer told members, according to a source inside the room.
Melanie Zanona contributed to this story.