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RNC Rules Committee Set to Take Center Stage in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Republican National Committee's rules will take center-stage this week as anti-Donald Trump forces clash with establishment actors in an effort to open up the convention to another candidate.

But while GOP committee members will open discussion on the rules on Tuesday afternoon, the real action won't come until later this week. That's because the RNC's Standing Rules Committee, which is made up of elected RNC members from every state and meets Tuesday afternoon during the RNC's Summer Meeting in Cleveland, has little bearing on what the Convention Rules Committee ultimately decides. They pass a slate of changes that acts as a recommendation, but the 112-member Convention Rules Committee — made up of delegates to the convention, including some RNC members, state party leaders and elected officials — can throw out the rule book and implement their own changes when they meet later this week.

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That doesn't mean the Standing Rules Committee won't feature some debate. Two RNC members, Solomon Yue of Oregon and Bruce Ash of Arizona, have both submitted amendments meant to stop any effort to oust Trump at the convention. Yue's proposal would effectively freeze in place the RNC'S 2012 rules and defer the implementation of any changes until 2020. Ash's proposal would, as he described it, make sure the only names that could be considered as receiving votes by delegates were those names that were placed into nomination."

"It would keep delegates bound as their state contest requires them to do and keep them true to the pledge that they made to those who selected them to attend the national convention," Ash said.

The debate over those amendments will offer an early test of how fierce the opposition is among longtime party operatives to the effort to unseat Trump by unbinding delegates at the convention to allow them to vote against the presumptive GOP nominee. An informal survey of the three dozen RNC members on the convention Rules Committee showed an overwhelming majority opposed to a rule change seeking to allow delegates to vote their conscience, with just one, North Dakota RNC Member Curly Haugland, open to it.

While there remains strong discontent with the presumptive nominee among the grassroots conservatives that make up a significant portion of the convention delegates, the RNC, committee members say, has largely come around to Trump.

"It seems as though there is a sense of belief at the RNC that the Never-Trump and conscience movement is going nowhere. Mr. Trump is going to be the nominee," one RNC member said.