The House outlook
The House of Representatives remains in recess and will come back into session next week, on Tuesday, September 4. This will begin a frantic six-week period before Congress once again recesses ahead of the November elections.
The political news for Republicans continues to worsen. Last week, we pointed out how several races have moved in the direction of Democrats — including the seat of House Freedom Caucus stalwart Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., who has been one of the most consistent conservatives in Congress since he was elected.
This week, two more House races have tightened, as vast swaths of the Democratic agenda is enacted by a complicit GOP Congress, complicated by a besieged and often erratic White House. The Cook Political Report has moved the seat of Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.” Additionally, the seat held by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, has moved from “lean Republican” to “toss up” status.
Holding should be a concern for conservatives. While his fiscal track record has been spotty — he recently voted for the $1 trillion food and farm welfare bill, but opposed the disastrous extension of the $25 billion debt-saddled National Flood Insurance Program — he has been fairly solid on immigration issues and overall has been trending more conservative since being elected.
For conservative activists seeking to defend and expand liberty, these are the members in need of encouragement and cultivation. These are also the members you don’t want to lose in a potential blue wave simply because leadership failed to put forward an agenda that energizes the conservative base.
To that end, conservatives must demand that strong border security provisions be included in the upcoming continuing resolution to fund the government at the end of September. In the wake of the heartbreaking death of Mollie Tibbetts — one of untold numbers of Americans killed or murdered by criminal illegal aliens over the years — failure to do so would be both immoral and political malpractice.
The media, many on the Left, and some useful idiots on the Right have tried to paint a vague, scattershot narrative more to their liking regarding her death. Some have blamed “toxic masculinity.” Others have cast her aside as “just some girl from Iowa.” Senator Elizabeth Warren, Socialist Sycophant-Mass., suggested that we focus on where the “real problems are,” such as the temporary separation of illegal immigrant families at the border. They’ve made it about everything other than the truth.
And the truth is that if our border were secured and if our immigration laws were not utterly broken from decades of bipartisan malfeasance, incompetence, and sabotage, Mollie Tibbetts would be alive.
As would Kate Steinle. And Sgt. Brandon Mendoza. And Joshua Wilkerson. And Ronald Da Silva. And on. And on. And on.
There is still the opportunity to finally put an end to the madness with the right policies. We need asylum reform. We need to end the diversity visa lottery program. We need a merit-based immigration system that eliminates chain migration. We need more ICE agents and personnel in the Border Patrol. And we need a border wall.
Yes, implementing border security provisions in the government funding bill next month may result in a temporary government “shutdown” a few weeks before an election.
The Democrats are all in on open borders, abolishing ICE, and allowing American children to be sacrificed in order to keep the flow of illegals coming across. This is nothing less than a war on the American people and American sovereignty. If Republicans want to keep the House, they’re going to have to fight it.
The Senate outlook
The Senate returns today after passing a gargantuan $857 billion appropriations bill last week. As we discussed two weeks ago, the Labor-HHS appropriations bill funded a litany of progressive priorities — everything from increased federal intervention in education to Planned Parenthood to Obamacare to crony, progressive entities like the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Naturally, Senate leadership tied this bill to funding for the Department of Defense to provide political “cover” for Republicans who voted for it. Never mind our $21 trillion and growing national debt. At least Congress funded the troops! Troops whose number one national security threat is, of course, the national debt.
With this kind of “leadership,” who needs Democrats? Republicans are doing a fine job of defeating themselves.
The Senate will spend most of the week voting on a slew of the president’s nominees. The big question is whether Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will reach a “consent agreement” to shorten the amount of floor time spent debating these nominees.
There is a high likelihood of this occurring. Many vulnerable red-state Democrats up for election want to campaign back in their home states. And some vulnerable Republicans, including Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have already missed votes to hit the trail.
The nominees that the Senate is expected to vote on include a dozen district judges, two members of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve, an assistant attorney general, assistant secretary for intelligence at the Department of the Treasury, and assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services.
If the Senate didn’t have French work weeks, many of these nominees would already have been debated and confirmed by now. And instead of wasting valuable floor time in August confirming district judges, Republicans could be debating border security bills, health care freedom, and spending cuts to address our ballooning debt.
In memoriam John McCain
The passing of Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., on Saturday has led much of the media discussion over the past 48-72 hours. Predictably, both detractors and supporters of the president have used his death to score political points for their own agendas.
Yes, Senator McCain was a frustrating thorn in the side of conservatives on any number of policies for a very long time. He was also a war hero who suffered unspeakable abuses and torture for his country at the hands of our communist enemies. He should be honored and his family forever thanked for his service. A nation that cannot do that very simple thing is not a nation that can long endure.
Summary: The Senate remains in session this week and prepares to vote on a slew of the president’s nominees. This could have and should have been finished months ago if Senate “leadership” had worked longer days and exhausted all procedural options to move past Democrats’ intransigence.
When both houses return next week, all eyes will turn to the Kavanaugh nomination in the Senate and the potential for a shutdown fight at the end of September. Republicans still have neither the vision nor a strategy for motivating their base to turn out in the November elections. Instead, they continue to waste valuable floor time either advancing progressive priorities or voting on presidential appointments. That puts this week’s liberty outlook at: Code yellow.
There’s no imminent legislative action or threat this week. Instead, there’s just a massive exercise in futility being overseen by people who want you to believe that they are fighting for your interests. Their problem is that we are watching them. And we know better.
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.