It’s a sad day when conservatives have to expend all of their political capital preventing Republicans from making the Islamic terror problem worse rather than uniting to fight the willful blindness of the Left. Unfortunately, that is exactly what some conservatives had to do on the House floor yesterday.
We already know what the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, as the body closest to the people, does NOT do. It does not use the power of the purse or oversight to fight for the people on any gravely consequential issue in a meaningful way, such as refugees, immigration enforcement, Obamacare, Iran, etc. But what does it do with all that time in Washington?
If you answered “sitting on the ball and running out the clock,” you have correctly accounted for everything Republicans do in a given week.
Late yesterday afternoon, Republicans voted on a whopping 35 suspension votes. There are another 14 to come today. Suspension votes were designed for legitimately non-controversial issues, such as the naming of post offices, whereby the bill is brought to a vote with no committee action. These bills are subject to limited debate and win passage so long as they garner a two-thirds majority. Instead of using this procedural move as an exception to passing legislation, Republicans have been using the suspension calendar as the main course of their agenda; pushing banal or often liberal bills through without scrutiny. The practice itself is offensive because most congressional offices don’t have the time to analyze so many off-topic bills on a variety of issues. Moreover, Republicans chastised the Pelosi Congress for spending most of their time on vanity issues instead of addressing the core problems with our economy and security.
Initially, House leadership planned to ram these bills through by voice vote. Doing so would not have required a recorded vote. While some of the bills covered the naming of post offices, others created new programs and should have required scrutiny and input from the membership. One bill, for example, mandated that all public bathrooms have change tables for babies. Another bill expanded Medicaid programs, even though we already spend $365 billion on this behemoth which does nothing for upward mobility, but rather perpetuates a need for its own existence. To protest this action, Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas (A, 96%), Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan. (A, 91%), Justin Amash, R-Mich. (A, 96%), and several others stood on the floor throughout the day to demand roll call votes.
But one bill, which was rigorously protested by Gohmert, deserves a special mention. As part of House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul’s, R-Texas (F, 58%) obsession with throwing money at the jihad problem instead of addressing the willful blindness at a policy level, he sponsored a suspension bill (H.R. 5859) to create a new $195 million counterterrorism grant program. DHS already spends $1.6 billion on wasteful programs to train local law enforcement, but as we’ve noted before, much of those funds actually exacerbate the problem because they go towards “Countering Violent Extremism” programs. They literally empower the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups to train local law enforcement in Islamophobia instead of spotting jihadists.
Facing criticism for previous CVE bills, McCaul got smart and took out all references to CVE. Supporters of the bill claim that the money will go directly to law enforcement and does not involve CVE. The problem is that the bill still requires applicants to develop a plan to “work with community partners, ”which, in this sphere of work — especially under the current DHS — is heavily influenced by groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Furthermore, why are Republicans acting like Democrats and throwing money at a policy problem? It’s like responding to a raging fire with a hose of coins instead of a hose full of water. It’s like Democrats spending $1.1 billion to fight Zika (when we already have unspent funds) and at the same time banning pesticides.
That we’ve brought in thousands of jihadists and that the FBI has allowed all of the recent terrorists to slip through their crosshairs is not the result of a lack of funding, it’s a result of willful blindness — the very willful blindness that is fostered by the groups that would be subcontracted under these programs. As Gohmert asked on the House floor, what is the purpose of throwing money at programs that train law enforcement to spot the Islamophobe instead of the jihadist?
Ironically, when McCaul called up the bill, he had Democrat Rep. Donald Payne Jr. D-N.J. (F, 16%) speak on the floor in favor of the bill because liberals support it. It’s an easy way not to talk about the real problem — CVE, the Muslim Brotherhood, mass migration and refugees, etc. In comes Louie Gohmert and claims time in opposition against “his own party” and absolutely demolishes the entire premise of the bill. It’s worth watching his full speech:
Gohmert made a simple demand: that if this bill is genuinely not about the CVE agenda, why not attach an amendment to prohibit any funding from being awarded to groups listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism trial?
The House will finish all of the roll call votes today (along with an additional 14 suspension votes) and will likely pass this bill with overwhelming support. Senate conservatives would be wise to put a hold on this bill and refuse to fast-track it to the Senate floor unless the limiting rider is placed in the bill.
In many respects, the activity on the House floor yesterday afternoon embodies the divide within the party. Mainline Republicans refuse to confront Democrats on important issues, spending most of their time with banal and liberal bills that offer the palest of pale pastel differences between the parties. Meanwhile, conservatives like Gohmert and Huelskamp fight the lonely battles for We the People.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.