Three weeks after Matt Gaetz and other House Republicans supported by “pro-family” groups voted to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Jim Banks, Focus on the Family’s man in the U.S. House, joined other pro-Trump conservatives to oppose Tom Emmer, the third speaker candidate to fail in uniting divided GOP members.
Banks formerly worked at Focus alongside James Dobson and has the endorsement of the Focus-aligned Family Research Council Action as well as the pro-family groups Eagle Forum, Concerned Women For America Legislative Action Committee, and American Family Association Action.
Banks, a Republican from Indiana, now leads the House’s Anti-Woke Caucus and has a personal beef against Emmer, who was victorious over Banks last year to become the House whip, the House’s No. 3 position.
Banks, who prizes ideological purity over pragmatism, supported Jim Jordan for speaker and cited Emmer’s “moderate” leanings in his opposition. Banks called Emmer the “single most liberal member of leadership” among the House Republicans.
“I can’t go along with putting one of the most moderate members of the entire Republican conference in the speaker’s chair,” Banks said. “That betrays the conservative values that I came here to fight for.”
Emmer’s “liberal” sins include rejecting Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud, certifying the results of the 2020 election, supporting a stopgap spending bill that will keep the U.S. government open until Nov. 17, supporting federal protections for same-sex couples, and being willing to work with Democrats to solve pressing problems.
In New York, Trump took a break from his civil trial over fraud in the Trump Organization to call Emmer a “Globalist RINO,” or Republican in Name Only, and oppose his election as speaker, sealing his fate.
Banks, who has served in the House since 2017 and has announced he will run for Senate next year, has consistently shown his loyalty to Focus’ brand of divisive and ultra-conservative values in a series of moves:
- He objected to certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.
- He at first supported the creation of a House committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, then changed his mind to oppose the investigation, then sent out official letters falsely claiming he was part of the committee.
- He joined firebrand Lauren Boebert, whom Focus supports, in calling to impeach President Joe Biden.
- He and he and fellow Anti-Woke Caucus member Marjorie Taylor Greene co-sponsored a resolution to impeach the Secretary of Homeland Security over problems at the southern border.
- He and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio introduced legislation to bring back Trump’s ban on transgender military service.
- He rejected plans to empower acting speaker Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., to lead the House, calling the plan “the biggest ‘F you’ to Republican voters.”
- He called for House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger to lose her post after she voted against Jim Jordan for speaker.
- Last year, he and other House conservatives generated an ethics complaint when they claimed COVID-19 prevented them from voting in the Capitol but instead attended the Conservative Political Action Conference.
- And last week, he called for the U.S. to deport all foreign students in the U.S. on temporary visas who expressed support for Hamas, telling Fox News, “We need to shut down our border and then deport all non-citizen Hamas sympathizers.”
Banks and his wife, Amanda, have long-lasting relationships with Dobson, Focus on the Family (where they both worked in Focus’ in-house public policy division), and activist organizations that Focus has founded and nurtured.
Jim Banks is a frequent guest on programs by the Family Research Council, founded by Dobson in 1981, and he joined Trump and other Republicans at September’s FRC-sponsored Pray Vote Stand Summit, where he spoke on “De-Woking the Pentagon.” Trump endorsed Banks’ 2024 Senate run at the event.
Amanda Banks serves as vice president of education at Family Policy Alliance, which was founded by Dobson in the 1980s and now oversees a network of conservative family policy councils in 40 states. FPA has taken the lead in enacting anti-trans legislation and other measures in GOP-led states.
She directs FPA’s Statesmen Academy, which recruits and trains conservatives to run for public office, as well as its biblical worldview School Board Academy and its recently launched Social Conservative Academy, which offers a $49 training on “How to Beat the Radical Left.”
Focus has praised Jim Banks for calling Rachel Levine, a transgender Biden administration official, “a man.”
Focus also praised Banks’ support for “religious freedom” legislation that would protect the tax-exempt status of politically active churches and religious groups like Focus.