One of the excuses for Republicans failing to promote a conservative agenda is that “outside organizations” have unrealistic expectations of what they can accomplish when they are out of power.
That excuse comes to an end in January when Donald Trump is sworn into office with a Republican-controlled House and Senate. However, based on what we’re seeing from the lame-duck session, it is clear that the dearth of conservatism is not due to a lack of power but a lack of will. The alacrity of Republicans to promote mediocre or liberal priorities in a lame-duck session with Obama as president instead of passing a budget CR and getting out of town — so that we can do better things next year — demonstrates that they fundamentally don’t share our values.
To that end, I present a week in review in the form of the top seven RINO moments of betrayal. (Warning: John McCain, R-Ariz. (F, 32%) and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (F, 30%) are the stars of the show.)
1. Sold out to the transgender lobby
GOP leaders negotiated a conference report for the final version of the FY 2017 defense bill (NDAA). The transgender lobby pushed hard to remove a provision protecting defense contractors from Obama’s mandate forcing them to comply with his transgender policies and views on gay marriage or risk losing contracts. John McCain, as the lead Republican negotiator, agreed to take out this provision (the Russell Amendment).
Let’s get this straight: Republicans are passing an NDAA in a lame duck, which is already several months into the fiscal year, instead of waiting until early next year when we have a Republican president who could sign an NDAA with better provisions, protecting religious liberty. Remember, this is an authorization bill — not an appropriations bill — and can wait until February. Then again, the sexual identity movement tells Republicans to jump and they ask, “How high?”
Unfortunately, with leadership presenting members with a false choice of passing a defense bill with bad provisions instead of waiting, conservatives felt compelled to vote for it and so as not to appear they oppose the military. This is what leadership does to conservatives on a daily basis.
2. Jammed through 1,000-page health care spending bill
Who doesn’t want to cure cancer? Under the guise of discovering the cure to cancer, GOP leadership passed an “unpaid-for” $6.3 billion health care spending bill that threw even more money at the HHS, which already spends about $1 trillion a year on health care programs. Once again, conservative members were placed in a tough position between the false choice of either appearing to be against a cure for cancer and some good reforms or creating a lot of wasteful big government programs.
3. Funded Syrian al Qaeda in defense bill
In addition to caving on the transgender provision in the NDAA, Republicans, at the behest of John McCain, extended funding for the training and equipping of Syrian rebels through 2018! Yes, they are extending Obama’s legacy of funding Syrian Islamist groups — who call for the beheading of the troops who are training them — into Trump’s presidency. Again, why not wait until Trump becomes president and disband this harmful program? Because McCain, as you will see in a moment, loves himself some Islamist rebels.
4. Proposed an amendment to protect al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia
Obama is not the only one who mixes up enemies and allies. Just how strong is the support of John McCain and Lindsey Graham for the Syrian Islamist rebels? They proposed an amendment this week to strip out a provision from the Justice Against Sponsors of Terror Act (JASTA), which allows families of terror victims to bring civil claims against governments that fund those terrorist groups responsible.
As Patrick Poole reports, the intent behind their amendment, which comes on the heels of an intense lobbying campaign from Saudi Arabia, is “to immunize countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that have funded Sunni terrorist groups in Syria — the Syrian ‘rebel’ effort that both McCain and Graham have publicly supported since 2011.” Meanwhile, as they promote Saudi Arabia and Syrian al Qaeda, McCain and Graham are publicly criticizing domestic policies of Egyptian President al-Sisi in his efforts to clamp down on the Muslim Brotherhood. Who needs Democrats when we have two of the most senior Republicans on foreign policy promoting the same dyslexic Muslim Brotherhood agenda?
5. Thom Tillis threw a tantrum over criminal justice reform
Imagine being a Republican now as we look forward to the opportunity of controlling all branches of government. There is an endless list of conservative priorities to push on social, fiscal, and national security issues, right? Well, for Sen. Thom Tillis (R-K Street), his hill to die on his promoting jail break.
This week, he threatened to retire from the Senate in 2020 unless Republicans pass criminal justice “reform.” So as a member of the Judiciary Committee, with the opportunity to focus on immigration and election fraud, which are helping create a permanent Democrat majority, he instead focuses on Soros’ number one priority: help grow the Democrat voter base?! This is a man whose priorities are already dyslexic, as he sided with the transgender lobby over his own state party. His threat to retire should actually come as welcome news to conservatives. Unfortunately, his threat is likely as real as the threat from Hollywood actors to leave the country when Trump becomes president.
6. Lindsey Graham just can’t divorce himself from amnesty
Lindsey Graham has long peddled the open borders electoral myth: Republicans cannot win elections without embracing amnesty. This election completely repudiated that premise and proved conclusively that just the opposite is true. So what is Graham’s first priority for 2017? He plans to introduce another Dream Act amnesty designed to preserve Obama’s executive amnesty! At a time when more and more young, illegal immigrants are flooding our southern border, induced precisely by these very promises of amnesty, Lindsey wants to pour gasoline on the fire.
Meanwhile, there are new reports that illegal immigrants are more successful than ever at evading apprehension at the border and that unaccompanied minors are draining our federal health care funds. Thanks Lindsey! You are just what the doctor ordered.
7. Orrin Hatch might violate his pledge and run again
Facing a competitive primary in 2012, old-bull establishment hack Orrin Hatch, R-Utah (F, 33%) pledged that this would be his final — and most conservative — term in the Senate. Well, it has been his most liberal, and he is now indicating he will break his pledge and run for another term in 2018. If re-elected, he will be 90 years-old at the end of his term. Then again, the growing fumes of more power will always get in the way of doing the right thing, turning the House of Lords into a retirement home.
With friends like these …
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.