They basically have nothing to do’: Trio of Republicans face life in exile

They’re the outcasts of Capitol Hill, personae non gratae even in their own party.

Duncan Hunter, Chris Collins and Steve King have been excommunicated from the House GOP conference in the most public way possible: stripped of their committee assignments and forced to watch the legislating from the sidelines.

Now, while the rest of their colleagues work on crafting bills, the trio of committee exiles are searching for ways to spend their time on Capitol Hill so they’re not just waiting around to vote or aimlessly roaming the hallways.

Their options, however, are limited. They could sign up to deliver short, late-night or early morning speeches on the House floor, but those take place outside normal legislating hours and typically fade into the C-SPAN abyss. King this year has spoken twice on the floor, spending his time defending his racist comments to The New York Times. Neither Hunter nor Collins has given a floor speech this year.

The members could also put more energy into congressional caucuses or lobby their colleagues to move their bills, though there is little guarantee for success. It’s much more difficult for a single lawmaker to wield influence in the House, whereas in the Senate, any lone member can hold up floor proceedings.

“They basically have nothing to do,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who served on the Judiciary Committee alongside King. “If you’re cast out of the organized bodies and committees of Congress, and you’re kind of just a hitchhiker on the floor, there’s very little influence you can have in the House of Representatives.”

“I suppose they can form a ‘pariah caucus,’” he added