By Alexander Bolton and Scott Wong - 04-23-16 06:08 AM EDT
Conservative Republicans are worried that political correctness is creeping into their party.
They point to the decision by a House committee to replace 50 state flags - including Mississippi's, which is emblazoned with the Confederate battle flag - with 50 state coins from the U.S. mint.
Separately, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sidestepped the controversy this week raging over a North Carolina law barring transgender people from using bathrooms that do not match their born sex, saying he didn't know enough about what he said was a state proposal.
And while conservative Republicans grumble that President Obama's decision to pull Andrew Jackson off the front of the $20 bill is playing politics with currency, they feel there's scant motivation in their ranks to stop him.
"Political correctness has crept into the Capitol," said David Bozell, president of ForAmerica, a conservative advocacy group.
Brian Darling, a conservative Republican strategist, accused House GOP leaders of caving in to the PC police.
"The House making the decision to take down all the flags so the Mississippi flag is not in the Capitol is a sign of political correctness," he said. "Until the people of Mississippi decide they want to change it, Congress should fly the state flag."
Taking umbrage at the "PC police" has been a go-to card for conservatives for years.
It's been used to great success in this year's presidential race by Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the party's nomination.
Trump regularly faults the country for sliding into political correctness, an argument he's used to parry criticism of statements he's made about Mexico, women and Muslims.
While he called Tubman "fantastic" this week, he also criticized the decision to replace Jackson with her on the $20 bill as "pure political correctness."
Last fall, he told a South Carolina audience "I'm so tired of this politically correct crap."
Yet even Trump this week came under criticism from his GOP presidential rival Ted Cruz that he had bowed to political correctness by stating that the North Carolina bathroom law had done harm to the state.
Cruz's campaign launched a new television ad Friday accusing Trump of joining "the ranks of the PC police" - a charge that would have been all but unimaginable a few weeks ago.
Conservatives fear that squeamishness on social controversies is linked to what they see as a lack of full commitment to confront Democrats on major policy issues, such as defunding Planned Parenthood.
They are also making the case that if the GOP cannot fight President Obama and Democrats on those issues, it is no wonder they can't take more basic steps in governance.
"If you can't say that guys should be going to the bathroom in men's rooms and women should have the privacy they're entitled to, if you can't make that case as a leader of the Republican Party, no wonder you can't get a budget through," Bozell said this week.
Some Republican lawmakers argue that times are changing, and that their party would be better off realizing it.
"Laws and institutions must advance to keep pace with the progress of the human mind," said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), paraphrasing a quotation on the Jefferson Memorial.
He argued that his party is not succumbing to political correctness by taking down the Mississippi flag on Capitol Hill.
"There's an appropriate place to have those things that depict history and there are those things that from a historical standpoint belong in museums instead of public venues," he said.
Corporate American backed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's decision last year to move the confederate flag off state capitol grounds after the killings of nine black church-goers in Charleston. North Carolina is facing serious pressure from business groups - long aligned with the GOP - over its new laws.
Another sign of impatience from the corporate world came this week when former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was fired by ESPN after he shared a Facebook post mocking the push to allow transgender men into women's bathrooms.
It was the latest in a series of political statements or posts that earned Schilling applause from the right, but that his corporate parent was uncomfortable with. ESPN is owned by the Disney company.
Some Republicans worry that changing with the times risks becoming an assault on the nation's heritage.
Alabaman Sens. Richard Shelby (R) and Jeff Sessions (R) say it was inappropriate to remove Jackson from the $20 without congressional approval.
"They didn't do it by legislation. It's a problem with a lot of people. Jackson was a strong president, someone who went down in history," said Shelby. "I think Congress should be making those kind of decisions.
"Let's see if there's any movement around here," he added of a possible policy rider to block the administration. "I'd look at it seriously, very seriously."
They note that Democrats around the country celebrate the nation's seventh president at annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners.
At the same time, most GOP lawmakers don't want to go near the issue.
"Because of the political correctness you're not going to get anybody to do anything," said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.).