Jim Jordan does not want Republicans to pass non-controversial spending bills, delaying a vote on funding a border wall until after the November elections. He wants Republicans to fight. More importantly, he wants them to win and deliver legislative victories for President Trump and the American people.
That’s why he’s running for speaker of the House, Jordan, R-Ohio, told Conservative Review in a recent interview. But before leadership elections happen in late fall, Republicans need to maintain control of Congress. And Jordan has a clear vision for how the GOP can take its case directly to the American people and win in November, one that doesn’t involve surrendering to the Democrats in the upcoming government shutdown fight this October.
“I think it’s important that we try to nationalize these elections and talk about the agenda that the American people elected President Trump to accomplish,” Jordan said. He believes it’s “critical” to champion Trump’s accomplishments on the campaign trail while members of Congress are in recess this August. Whether it’s repealing regulations, the tax cuts, the booming 4.1% economic growth and record low unemployment, or Trump’s record on judges, canceling the Iran nuclear deal, moving the embassy to Jerusalem, or securing the release of American hostages from North Korea, Jordan believes Republicans should go on offense to voters with the Trump presidency.
“That is an amazing year and a half, and you can put that up against any administration’s first year and a half,” Jordan said. “It is amazing accomplishment.”
He feels differently about Congress. Keenly aware that Trump is not on the ballot in November, that members of Congress will need to run on their record, Jordan says he is focused on ensuring Republicans get back to work after the recess to keep their promises and deliver on the rest of Trump’s agenda.
“When you think about what the House has done, and certainly we helped with the tax cuts and those are big, but so many other issues we promised the American people we would deliver on, like repealing Obamacare, like reforming welfare and requiring work for able-bodied people, like building a border security wall and fixing immigration policy in this country, and like controlling spending, we have not delivered on those,” Jordan said.
Government spending will be front and center this fall, with another looming government shutdown deadline in October. Worried that a shutdown just before the November elections would turn off voters, Republican leaders in Congress have reportedly presented a plan to Trump to “minimize the threat” of a political fight over funding Trump’s border wall. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., want to wait until after the midterms to take up legislation that would fund the wall. What’s more, with a projected $1 trillion budget deficit in 2019, there is no talk of taking up spending cuts. If Democrats retake the House, there likely will be no spending cuts whatsoever for the remainder of Trump’s first term.
Jordan’s thoughts on the Ryan-McConnell plan reveal that were he in charge, the strategy would be completely different. Asked if conservatives would fight the plan to delay a spending fight on Trump’s priorities until after the election Jordan responded with a resounding “HECK YES!”
“How is that being consistent with what we promised the American people? I think actually just the opposite is what we should be doing,” Jordan asserted.
“Do we want to nationalize these elections and fire up Republican and Trump voters to come out and vote for us? Then we better just not kick the can past the elections, we better actually do the things we said we were going to do. I think it’s exactly the wrong approach.”
Jordan is eager for the fight on spending. He is tired of seeing Republicans “forfeit” to the Democrats, often, he says, without even having a debate.
“You have to have the debate,” he said, recounting how he thinks GOP leadership missed a great opportunity in the January 2018 government shutdown led by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
After the House passed a short-term spending bill Democrats under Schumer’s leadership decided to shut down the government because there was no DACA amnesty for illegal immigrants in the bill. The shutdown lasted for three days before Schumer backed off after getting “crushed in the public relations debate,” as described by Jordan. As it turned out, holding national security and military spending hostage for illegal immigrants was not popular with the American people.
Jordan laments that instead of capitalizing on the momentum from the Democrats’ humiliation to cut spending, in March Congress passed a 2,232 page omnibus bill with only an hour of debate, no amendments allowed, funding Democrat priorities and leaving the Republican agenda behind. He calls the episode a “debacle.”
“We didn’t even get to have the debate. We’re just agreed ahead of time, ‘Oh we don’t think the Senate will pass it, so we’re just going to increase spending on everything,’” he said. “And they are getting ready to do it again. That has got to change.”
Jordan also criticized Republican leadership for failing to take advantage of the Republicans’ greatest asset: President Trump.
“What we also didn’t understand is we have a guy in the White House who’s great at communicating, who would have helped us with bully pulpit of the presidency and help us win that debate. And instead, we just forfeited before we even started the match,” Jordan said.
Here Jordan strikes another contrast with other Republicans. He believes Trump had the right instincts when the president threatened to veto the omnibus last March, and says he understands why ultimately Trump signed the omnibus.
“Unfortunately, when you are given something at the last minute, and it’s always governing by crisis around Congress, that put the president in a tough position,” Jordan said.
“So I understand, but [Trump] knows and thinks that that was a terrible bill, because while it did good things for our military, it grew government $63 billion, and just more left-wing government. And that’s what we campaigned against. And that’s why our voters were so upset with that bill when it passed. So what’s being proposed now sounds like an Omnibus Extension Act, and that is not what the American people elected us to do and we should not go down that road.”
With another spending confrontation fast approaching, President Trump signaled over the weekend that he wants a fight with the Democrats, threatening to shut down the government again if the border wall is not funded.
I would be willing to “shut down” government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018
Some Republicans are already backing away from a potential shutdown. But Jordan speaks with clarity about what the Republican majority should be doing to support the president, what it needs to do regardless of whether or not he becomes speaker of the House.
“We should put a bill in front of the president that actually builds the border security wall. We should put a bill in front of the president that actually reduces spending outside of national defense. That’s what we should do,” Jordan said. “We should defund Planned Parenthood, and we should be funding the wall. Doing the things we said we would do.”
“I don’t think it’s that complicated.”
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
Send tips and hate mail to [email protected]