The House outlook
The House of Representatives returns today after a week in recess. Its main priority is passing what Washington dubs the “Cromnibus” before the end of the fiscal year on September 30 and before congressmen leave to campaign through the November elections. This bill is the same text that the Senate passed last week. It’s one part continuing resolution (CR) and one part omnibus appropriations bill.
The continuing resolution will provide funding for the Department of Homeland Security, along with other agencies and departments, without border security provisions.
The appropriations portion of the bill includes funding for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services. It therefore funds Obamacare, funds Planned Parenthood, and increases spending at the Department of Education while hiding behind “funding the troops.”
In a sane world, President Trump would veto this legislation regardless of the threat of a temporary government slowdown. Sadly, he has decided to go along with Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and take a pass on fighting for border security before the November elections.
Instead, House Republicans have put forward a toothless resolution by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., that disapproves of illegal immigrants voting in our elections. It has no binding statutory authority and is little more than a wagging of the finger at non-citizens voting in our elections.
Inspiring stuff from Republican leadership.
Additionally, the House is expected to take up at least 54 suspension bills this week. These bills cannot be debated or amended. Included in this list is a massive reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration that includes an attempt to create a new compulsory checkoff program for the masonry industry.
Checkoff programs are essentially compulsory payments to government-created boards that advertise for that particular agricultural product or commodity. For instance, the old “Got Milk?” commercials were funded by mandatory checkoff payments from dairy farmers.
This is little more than a reward for industry lobbyists, and while the legislation requires a referendum among concrete block manufacturers before it’s implemented, it’s almost guaranteed to succeed, as the larger manufacturers have more capital and clout to expend than smaller ones who may have more to lose if their profits are sent off to a board to pay members’ salaries to advertise for their product.
The notion that concrete masonry products need to be promoted through compulsory payments from industry participants is silly. A foreman at a construction site knows what materials he needs for his project without seeing a paid advertisement on his television or internet browser. Just as a family doesn’t need to see “Got Milk?” commercials to know they need to pick up a gallon at the grocery store for their kids’ Cheerios.
Sadly, this is the mindset and these are the priorities of far too many (i.e. most) elected officials. Instead of fighting for the key promises they’ve made to their constituents, they go the extra mile for the industry lobbyists looking to enrich themselves and their various allies on K Street with a new government program.
One of the conservative leaders who spearheaded the fight against the existing checkoff regime was former Senator Jim DeMint. As a senator, he often filed amendments during the farm bill debate to repeal these compulsory payments. We could use several dozen Jim DeMints in Congress right now.
The Kavanaugh hearing and the new Salem witch trials
The Kavanaugh confirmation chaos is scheduled to reach its apex this Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Christine Ford, who alleges that she was the victim of an “attempted sexual assault” by Judge Kavanaugh in high school, will testify before the committee.
As I mentioned when Brett Kavanaugh was first nominated, the jury is still out on how solid an originalist he would make on the Supreme Court. There are cases where his views on the Fourth Amendment and religious liberty are likely to raise red flags among some constitutional conservatives. Judge Amy Barrett or Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, would have been slam-dunk picks.
However, the past week and a half has shown that the Left is willing to sacrifice due process and the presumption of innocence for the sake of stopping a Supreme Court nominee. This has moved Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination fight into different territory altogether. At this point, progressives are wielding identity politics and the #MeToo cudgel to equate a single unverifiable allegation with guilt.
This is a terrifyingly destructive force. And it’s incumbent on Senate Republicans to defeat this.
Right now, there are several Senate Republicans whose support for Kavanaugh is in doubt. These include Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Only Senator Flake sits on the Judiciary Committee. But his vote — especially as a retiring Senator with an axe to grind — remains critically important for bringing Kavanaugh to the floor.
Assuming Kavanaugh makes it out of committee, he must still receive a majority of votes on the Senate floor. If two of the four Republican senators drop their support for Kavanaugh and every Democrat, including vulnerable red-state Senators like Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., vote with their party against Kavanaugh, his nomination will fail.
At the very least, the Senate must give Judge Kavanaugh the opportunity to clear his name and face his accuser. If Senate Republicans go wobbly and fail to secure the votes necessary to put him on the bench, as is clearly within the realm of the possible, then the president should immediately nominate Amy Coney Barrett as Anthony Kennedy’s replacement. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should then cancel any recess days in October, and the Senate GOP should confirm her without any delays before November, giving progressives no opportunity to assassinate her character or defame her and her family, as they have done to Judge Kavanaugh.
All of this is unhealthy for our republic. The Supreme Court should not hold so much power that a political party is willing to destroy a man and his family based on admittedly hazy decades-old accusations without evidence simply because his view regarding the role of the courts is not shared by its members.
Conservatives must start seriously advocating for a movement that advances jurisdiction-stripping and Article I empowerment to push back on the notion of judicial supremacy and to give America a chance to unify through federalism. The progressive Left knows that much of its agenda has been implemented through the courts and rampant judicial activism. A conservative majority on the Supreme Court — which may still be one more nominee away — is a direct threat to leftists’ power base and their religion. This is because government is their religion. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that their sacred secular altar is protected.
Thursday’s hearing could be a seminal moment in the history of our nation and is very likely to be make or break for the Republican party.
Either we are still a nation of laws and truth or we are not. We won’t have to wait long to find out.
Summary: The House is back in session this week to pass a slew of suspension bills and a “Cromnibus” that cements the Left’s priorities while abandoning fundamental promises on Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood, and border security. Additionally, the fate of Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court nominee lies in the hands of Senate Republicans. But it’s much more than that. Due process, the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof, and the very fabric of a society that allegedly places emphasis on evidence and truth is at stake. Right now, Judge Kavanaugh does not have the votes. The outlook for liberty is dire.
Get on your phones to your Senators. Get vocal and active with your community to engage them with what is happening. And get on your knees in prayer.
This is not a drill: Code red.
The Weekly Watchman
Welcome to the Weekly Watchman, a regular series at Conservative Review where we highlight and analyze legislation pending on the House and Senate floors so that you know exactly what your representatives are voting on — and the impact those votes will have on your freedom.
The truth is that every single vote cast in Congress either advances liberty or diminishes it. And in all the noise on social media and 24/7 cable news chaos, it can be difficult to keep track of what is really happening on Capitol Hill and what it means for you and your family.
Patrick Henry once stated, “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”
Drew White spent three years at Heritage Action for America as a legislative strategist covering domestic policy issues. He then served as Sen. Ted Cruz’s domestic policy adviser for two years, working on issues including Obamacare repeal, educational freedom, elimination of federal agencies and departments, and defunding Planned Parenthood. Most recently, he served as senior federal policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He currently resides in Austin, Texas, with his wife and golden retriever, happily clinging to his guns and religion.