In a sane world, the return of Congress this week would be a turning point for conservatives in this election. Caught between the lesser of two evils in a binary choice, without the ability to focus on some of the most important and winning political issues, conservatives have had a tough summer. GOP control of Congress should provide conservatives with the perfect platform to make their case to the American people that they are promoting the values and issues voters care about. Together with the leverage points of the FY 2017 budget bill and the FY 2017 defense authorization bill (NDAA), Republicans in Congress have the opportunity to transform the unforgiving narrative of this election to a more auspicious political landscape.
Sadly, we don’t live in a sane world and we don’t have a true opposition party that is willing to use these leverage points and control of Congress to fight Obama and Hillary’s agenda with full rigor. We will be lucky to emerge from September without having the GOP Congress make matters worse for us and further promote the Left’s agenda. Unfortunately, conservatives will have to expend all of their political capital preventing their “own team” from tossing interceptions rather than working together to move the ball forward and score touchdowns.
Here are the major political battles conservatives should watch for over the next few weeks until Congress recesses for the election beginning in the first week of October:
Given the universal concern over domestic terror attacks, it is astounding how Republicans allowed this past year’s budget bill to pass without any limits on Obama’s refugee program, at least from Syria. If nothing is done to stop the European-style suicide, the intake of refugees will increase by 15,000 to a total of 100,000 for FY 2017, which begins in October. The State Department will notify the House and Senate Judiciary committees, likely next week, whether they plan to increase the number of refugees beyond that 100,000 number.
There is nothing more unpopular in this country than the fundamental transformation inherent in the refugee agenda, especially given the ubiquitous security concerns refugees present. Conservatives must make it clear that, at the very least, the Syrian refugee program must be defunded in the upcoming budget bill. Conservatives should also make a push for the House to pass Rep. Brian Babin’s bill, which pauses the refugee program until the Government Accountability Office conducts a full audit of this odious policy.
The Internet Giveaway to Our Enemies
It is not an exaggeration to suggest that we only have three weeks to stop Obama from ceding control of internet IP addresses to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is influenced by countries such as Iran, Russia, and China. According to Americans for Limited Government, based on information divulged from a FOIA request, the Department of Commerce failed to conduct an antitrust analysis before signing off on this deal, which will likely create a private monopoly over the internet. One can only imagine the regulations, censorship, and security concerns that will arise from international control of America’s greatest invention.
Sens. Ted Crux, R-Texas, (A, 97%), Mike Lee, R-Utah (A, 100%), and James Lankford, R-Okla. (D, 69%) have been leading the fight to prevent the Department of Commerce from relinquishing U.S. control to ICANN. If nothing is done to stop the Obama administration, the transfer will be completed on October 1. Fortunately, our Founders granted the citizenry the power over the purse through control of Congress, which Madison referred to in Federalist 58 as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance.” The deal is set to go into effect on the very same day the government funding bill comes due for the new fiscal year. Anything short of a full policy rider with teeth stopping the Department of Commerce from making the transfer will violate the entire election promise of the Republicans in Congress. Then again, that is what we’ve come to expect from this party.
Criminal Justice Deform
As we’ve been reporting, Republicans plan to reward Obama’s executive jailbreak with jailbreak legislation. The Gang of Jailbreak is beginning to look a lot like the Gang of Eight on immigration, and George Soros is putting all his capital into this venture. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Goodlatte, R-Va. (D, 66%), at the behest of Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. (F, 53%) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. (D, 64%) are drafting legislation to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for individuals in federal prison — individuals who are anything but “non-violent.” This is just the tip of the iceberg, as the effort for jailbreak is about a lot more than reducing sentences for drug dealers; it is part of a growing movement to completely dismantle law and order throughout the country.
Sadly, conservatives will have to fight with everything they have just to stop this outrage instead of using their time to go on offense against the Democrats. The key is for the Freedom Caucus to immediately and categorically oppose any effort to deal with this issue before the elections. Once the bill is blocked in the House, it will have a harder time in the Senate because prominent Senators, such as Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. (C, 78%) Ted Cruz, R-Texas (A, 97%) Tom Cotton, R-Ark. (B, 81%) and David Purdue, R-Ga. (C, 73%) are opposing it. But for now, watch for Republican leadership to go on a charm offensive to disarm conservative opposition by tantalizing them some nebulous provisions addressing regulatory crimes (“mens rea reform”). These provisions will likely never make it to a final package and will be too small a concession to justify the steep price of violent jailbreak.
Obama is destroying our military, and the annual defense authorization bill (NDAA) is the final vehicle Republicans have to block his fundamental transformation of the pride of our nation. Between radical social engineering, transgenderism, requirements to integrate women into combat roles, politicized generals, the assault on religious liberty, and the lack of strategic mission and egregious rules of engagement for our troops sent into harm’s way – our military is facing an existential crisis from within. Instead of using the NDAA to fight some of these problems, Republicans actually joined with Democrats to make matters worse. For example, the Senate’s draft of the NDAA contains a provision including women in the Selective Service, which could one day lead to a mandatory draft of America’s daughters.
At some point this month, the House-Senate Conference Committee on the NDAA will produce an unamendable conference report to both bodies of Congress. Conservatives must make it clear that if that provision remains in the bill, the conference report will be voted down in the House. With Phyllis Schlafly’s passing fresh in our minds, it’s important to remember that the feminist ideas she so bravely fought against in her formative years were not as crazy and as radical as a mandatory draft. She recognized the radical gender-bender movement on the horizon when few appreciated the potency of the threat and used the prospect of a mandatory draft as a rationale for voting down the Equal Rights Amendment “(ERA)”. That was a point supported even by proponents of the ERA at the time, yet now we can’t even find more than a few Republicans willing to hold that ground. In her memory, we must all remember that a country that forces women to fight for it is a country not worth fighting for.
Busting Obama’s Alliance with Iran
Every week another shoe drops on Obama’s Iran deal. As many of us have warned, this wasn’t merely a bad nuclear deal; it was a full blown alliance in which Obama gave Iran latitude to harass our ships, reap the benefits of lifted sanctions without upholding even the tepid requirements in the written version of the agreement, and receive ransom for hostages — in contravention to our laws. The few sanctions that haven’t been suspended under the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (ISA) are set to expire at the end of December. Now is time for Congress to act.
Sure, the committees with relevant jurisdiction plan to hold hearings on the ransom. But hearings aren’t good enough when Obama has blatantly violated the terms of the congressional agreement to the Iran deal (“Corker-Cardin bill”) on multiple occasions. It’s time for a complete defunding of any plan to further release sanctions and transfer funding to Iran for any purpose. Let Democrats run for reelection on supporting the Ayatollahs and shutting down the government in order to enrich the leading sponsor of global terrorism in the world.
Conservatives, don’t hold your breath
Obviously, there are scores of other important issues that, in an ideal world, Republicans would fight for until the last day in September — defunding an ailing Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, and a number of recent executive actions on immigration and DACA, to name a few. Additionally, there are a number of other issues that speak directly to events taking place in our country and across the world that have captivated the attention of voters. Republicans could pass standalone legislation and effectively use these issues as messaging tools for the upcoming elections — if they really cared about winning. But the aforementioned five issues are the most immutable and consequential issues of this month if they are not dealt with through the two must-pass bills in September.
The first week does not look promising. House Republicans plan to pass roughly 20 “suspension bills,” an exercise in banality over random bills nobody cares about and are impossible to use as messaging tools in a national election.
Just take a look at page 34 of the GOP’s Pledge to America in 2010 and you will discover how party leaders felt about the Pelosi-Congress wasting time on suspension bills instead of focusing on the seminal issues of the day:
The number of House legislative days devoted to action on noncontroversial and often insignificant “suspension” bills is up significantly in this Congress by comparison with the past several Congresses, wasting time and taxpayer resources. Of the bills considered under the suspension procedure – requiring 2/3 vote for passage – so far during this Congress, more than half were bills naming federal buildings, recognizing individuals or groups (like sports teams) for achievements, or supporting the designation of particular days, months, or weeks.
Furthermore, it’s disturbing that some of those bills being placed on the calendar are sponsored by Democrat members who participated in the disruption of the House floor in July. Those members were never punished for violating House rules and should never be rewarded with a vote on their legislation so long as conservatives are unable to secure a vote on a single important bill.
The summer is over and it’s time for conservatives to gird for battle.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.