What is Heritage Foundation? Mike Pence set to join conservative public policy think tank as visiting fellow

The DC-based conservative think tank has been one of the most prestigious ones that has profoundly influenced America's policy-making


                            What is Heritage Foundation? Mike Pence set to join conservative public policy think tank as visiting fellow
(Getty Images)

Former vice president Mike Pence, who did not have a happy experience towards the end of his single-term stay in office, is set to join the Heritage Foundation, the organization informed on Thursday, February 4. The 61-year-old, who served as the 48th vice president in the presidency of Donald Trump, will be a distinguished visiting fellow at the foundation which is also called Heritage.

The news of Pence’s joining the foundation was first confirmed by informed sources to the conservative Breitbart News and later by the former veep and the Heritage. “The Heritage Foundation is a flagship of the conservative movement and I am profoundly honored to join them as a distinguished visiting fellow to advance conservative policies that will benefit every American,” Pence said in a release. “The Heritage Foundation helped shape my conservative philosophy for decades and played a pivotal role advancing conservative policies throughout the Trump Administration. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with the all-star team at Heritage as we continue to take the case for a strong national defense, free markets and traditional values to policymakers across the Nation and to every American who cherishes our Heritage of Freedom.”

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Heritage president Kay Cole James said in a release: “Over the course of the past four years, our team at Heritage has worked closely with members of the Trump administration on a host of policy accomplishments. That’s why I am excited Vice President Mike Pence will join forces with Heritage to ensure we continue to advance conservative principles and policy solutions. His allegiance to the Constitution and commitment to advancing a conservative policy agenda make him an outstanding fit for The Heritage Foundation.”

Former US Vice President Mike Pence  (Getty Images)


It was three decades ago that the influence of Heritage played a key role in shaping Pence’s idea to set up a think tank in Indiana, his home state. After his arrival to Washington as a congressman and later as the VP, Pence frequently worked with the organization. 

Successive presidents since Reagan have benefited from Heritage

The Heritage is a conservative think-tank which is geared mainly towards public policy. The DC-based body played a key role in the conservative movement when Ronald Reagan was the president (1981-89) and pursued policies that were at par with the Heritage’s policy study ‘Mandate for Leadership’. Since then, the Heritage has become a significant voice in America’s public policymaking and is considered today to be one of the most influential conservative think-tanks in the country. However, Democratic presidencies have also been influenced by the Heritage and to give an example, the health insurance mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is more commonly called Obamacare, is an idea that was conceived by Stuart Butler at the Heritage in a publication named “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans”.

Former president Ronald Reagan (Getty Images)

The Heritage was founded by Paul Weyrich, Edwin Feulner and Joseph Coors in February 1973. Inspired by the new business activism that was brought by the Powell Memorandum and dissatisfied with former president Richard Nixon’s acceptance of “liberal consensus” and the nature of the think-tanks that had prevailed then, Weyrich, a religious conservative and Feulner, a former president of the organization, wanted to establish think-tank that would advance conservative activism and that paved way for the Heritage. Weyrich was its first president while Coors, a former president of the Coors Brewing Company, was the primary sponsor. Later, the Heritage started using direct mail fundraising under the leadership of Frank J Walton and in 1976, its annual income grew to $1 million. In another five years, Heritage's annual budget crossed $5 million.

What kind of policies did Heritage promote? 

In its initial years, the foundation advocated policies that are pro-business, anti-communist and neo-conservative but differentiated itself from the conservative American Enterprise Institute by also promoting Christian right.

What will be Pence’s role ?

Pence announced that he will be a "distinguished visiting fellow" at the Heritage Foundation. Pence will advise experts at Heritage on public policy issues and ensure that the body continues to be a leading conservative voice to the US’s biggest challenges. The former Indiana governor also plans to make speeches on policy issues at Heritage and will write for the organization’s multimedia news outlet -- The Daily Signal.  Pence role will be a throwback to his career before he was first elected to Congress in 2000.