The House leaves a mess
The House of Representatives left town last week after passing what Conservative Review senior editor Daniel Horowitz described as the budget betrayal bill. By now, readers are likely familiar with the shenanigans that GOP leadership used to get the so-called “Cromnibus” passed. The Labor-HHS appropriations bill, which funds the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services, was combined with Department of Defense appropriations by Republicans desperate to avoid a potential government slowdown prior to the November elections.
This maneuver ensured that there would be no floor battles over Obamacare, Planned Parenthood funding, or increased federalization of education, as members instead could hide behind “funding the troops.”
Additionally, the bill extended funding for the Department of Homeland Security through December 7 without any border security provisions attached. No wall funding. No asylum reform to ensure people aren’t abusing the system. No defunding of sanctuary cities. Nothing.
In some ways, the bill was arguably worse than nothing, because it incorporated language changes that could incentivize more illegal immigration. Specifically, the bill provided for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to accept donations from private entities that “intend to promote the wellbeing” of Central American refugees and created a new mandate to force the ORR to assess the potential for class-action lawsuits for families who were temporarily separated at the border.
Only 56 Republicans voted against the bill. A significant number of these “No” votes were members of the last organized bastion of conservative resistance on Capitol Hill — the House Freedom Caucus. They were joined by the head of the Republican Study Committee, Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., and the few remaining conservative holdouts within that group.
Furthermore, the House passed its much-vaunted “Tax Reform 2.0” legislation, in what has to be the biggest mockery of the Republican base in quite some time. The bill has some decent provisions in it, including locking in the individual rates permanently. However, the legislation has zero chance of passage in the Senate because it was not done through budget reconciliation. This means that passage in the Senate requires 60 votes instead of the 51 used to pass last year’s tax cut bill.
But at least Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., introduced a resolution wagging his finger at illegal immigrants who vote in our elections.
Way to really step up and tell these non-citizens, in what amounts to a strongly worded letter, that we don’t appreciate that very much. The cynicism behind such a toothless resolution is outmatched only by the cowardice of the members who believed this to be a good idea.
Nevertheless, I’m sure this pointless piece of paper will bring some consolation to the families of Mollie Tibbetts, Jared Vargas, or any of the other thousands of Americans mourning lost loved ones due to criminal illegal alien violence and cartel-pushed opioids.
Indeed, the aftermath of these wasted final weeks, in which conservative policy victories were punted or abandoned altogether and progressive priorities were cemented, is likely to be felt for years and possibly decades to come.
The likelihood of Republicans ever being given such an opportunity again is slim. The base is fractured, demoralized, and angry. The conservative movement, which once consisted of a robust and dedicated network of think tanks and grassroots organizations working in tandem with a tireless group of conservative staffers and members, is in tatters.
Instead, this GOP House majority will likely be remembered for its broken promises, its squandered opportunities, and its feckless cowardice in the face of growing challenges.
If Republicans somehow eke out a win in November and retain their majority, it will not be because they deserve it. It will be because the progressive Left moved so far toward tyrannical mob-induced fascism that the public simply decided cowards were preferable to crazies.
For the Senate, it’s Kavanaugh or bust
And on the subject of progressive fascism, let’s now turn to the United States Senate and our modern-day Salem witch trials. The Kavanaugh confirmation chaos reached insanity levels last week that served notice to any and all liberty-loving Americans: If you think the wrong way, hold certain beliefs about the role of judges, view the Constitution in an originalist light, are of a certain gender, or believe that there are only two genders, your rights are now at the mercy of a godless mob.
I predicted that the Left would be willing to sacrifice due process and the presumption of innocence for the sake of stopping Brett Kavanaugh from reaching the Supreme Court. I just did not realize the extent to which Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats would descend into the kind of Orwellian freak show that millions of Americans witnessed last Thursday.
Unlike most pundits on cable news, I did not find Dr. Ford’s testimony to be credible. Sad? Yes. Sympathetic? Somewhat. Sincere? Maybe. But credible? Absolutely not.
As prosecutor Rachel Mitchell outlined in her recently released five-page memo, Dr. Ford’s accusations are so chock-full of contradictions, holes, and lack of corroboration — indeed, explicit refutation from her listed witnesses — that no reasonable prosecutor would press a case against Brett Kavanaugh. That was clear from the beginning.
But that was before Brett Kavanaugh sat down and delivered what may be the most memorable opening statement of my lifetime. As millions of Americans watched him set the chamber ablaze with his insistence that he is wrongly accused and the knowledge that his life, reputation, and family have been publicly eviscerated after a lifetime of respected service, it was clear that a Rubicon had been crossed.
The tribalism that has grown government, diminished our liberties, divided our people, and sent us spiraling toward $22 trillion of national debt is only likely to harden. This was evident as many conservatives cheered on Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a consistently reliable squish whose voting record belies any real conservative allegiance. But this cheering was appropriate. Senator Graham took Judge Kavanaugh’s fiery defense and brought thunderbolts of truth down on the bewildered heads of Senate Democrats in righteous indignation that perfectly channeled the outrage of a huge number of Americans.
Now the Kavanaugh nomination hangs in the balance due to the cowardly capitulation of Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who possesses what may be the most appropriate surname of any elected official. The FBI “investigation” he demanded is unlikely to turn up anything except more time for Democrats to delay, virtue-signal, activate their tyrannical mobs, and dig up false accusations to smear a man and his family. None of this should ever have happened. Yet here we are.
The Kavanaugh nomination has become a proxy vote on the very idea of due process, constitutional order, and the presumption of innocence in the face of an outright authoritarian and fascism-embracing progressive movement.
The issue, of course, is that Kavanaugh might be the swing vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. The truth is that his history suggests a far more milquetoast resume in the vein of Chief Justice John Roberts than of Justice Clarence Thomas. Yet it’s entirely possible that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, the Left will have radicalized a man who up until a few weeks ago was as mainstream as they come.
The Supreme Court should not matter so much that a political party would seek to annihilate a decent man with lurid eleventh-hour accusations in order to secure power. But it does. And sadly, it does for both parties. Indeed, Republicans have outsourced the entire rationale for supporting them at the ballot box to the sole promise that they will nominate originalist judges.
While the Senate is expected to remain in session for much of October, a Rubicon was crossed last week, and it bodes ill for those who seek to move away from the partisan idolatry that’s infecting our republic. An old tyranny has entered our public square, moving beyond our college campuses and into the very chambers where our elected officials are supposed to protect the foundations of our republic from the passions of the mob or the whims of the moment.
It is clear from last Thursday’s circus show that this tyranny, in the passions of the mob, has enraptured the minds of an entire political party and large segments of the public. Our fissures run deep. Our nation is teetering on the edge of ripping itself asunder.
And the frightening truth is that there is no party, no movement, and no institution remaining that is strong enough to stop it.
Summary: The House is in recess through the November elections. The Senate remains in session as the Kavanaugh nomination remains in limbo. All eyes are on Sens. Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins to determine whether Kavanaugh will sit on the court. This week’s Liberty Outlook remains: 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, son, and golden retriever, happily clinging to his guns and religion.