It didn’t have to be this way, and it still doesn’t. Just before close of business Wednesday, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed a $1.1 trillion omnibus budget deal that garnered far more Republican than Democrat “nay” votes and gave the minority party everything it could have asked for.
But just because a bunch of appropriators cut a deal in a back room to void out the election results and hand the Democrats the entire budget doesn’t mean this has to be a done deal, at least not to Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
King proposed a series of amendments to the bill just hours before the final House vote that contained everything that the American people were promised when they handed control over Congress, the presidency, and the future of the courts to the Republican Party in November.
The provisions of King’s seven-point reform plan were announced in a Wednesday afternoon press release and read as follows:
The current omnibus spending bill continues to fund Planned Parenthood through September and hamstrings efforts to build the border wall for that same amount of time, while capitulating on several other Democrat-friendly provisions. But even with the clock ticking away on the deadline for the not-really-terrifying prospect of a government shutdown, the bill doesn’t have to be as bad as it is.
There is no reason why the House of Representatives, which is controlled by a simple majority vote, can’t press the reset button and pass a budget bill funding government with GOP priorities. Then the president can travel the country messaging the House bill and placing pressure on Senate Democrats not to shut the government down in order to void the election results.
Even though the House has failed to right this battered ship of a budget, Steve King feels that his amendments lay down the marker for the only workable strategy in the future – having the House preemptively pass Republican priorities.
“House Conservatives need to create a way to win with President Trump by the end of September or the Conservative movement will be defeated,” King said in an interview with CR. “No presidential candidate will be able to convince conservatives they will keep their word and fight the fight unless we win their confidence back this summer.”
The biggest betrayal from Republican leadership isn’t necessarily that the provisions above aren’t in the bill; it’s that they didn’t convince anyone that they even tried to make it happen. This makes the base wonder why in the world they even tolerated Republican nonsense in the first place.
Voters are smart enough to know that they’re not going to get everything on a continuing resolution without a 60-seat majority in the Senate, but they should at least be given the sense that they voted for Republicans – which doesn’t come across clearly when those same Republicans seem all too eager to check off a Democrat wish list.
Likewise, there’s no reason that members or voters dedicated to their principles should have to settle for the back-room boondoggle being shoved down their throats.
The biggest unanswered question is that if Republicans truly shared our values, rather than merely being scared of a shutdown, why wouldn’t they at least start out with a strong bill in the House and have the president use the bully pulpit to shame Senate Democrats into submission? Now that the budget has gone way past last October anyway, why not get this one right? Why the rush? Despite the exigencies articulated during the 2016 election, the promises that gave them control of the federal government don’t seem to be worth fighting for.
Now that the president realizes this bill is a disaster, it’s not too late to demand a course correction. It is precisely for this situation that he was chosen by GOP primary voters.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.