The House outlook
The House of Representatives remains in recess and will not be returning (short of an emergency) until September 4. Members continue to meet with their constituents and campaign ahead of what is looking more and more like a bad election cycle for Republicans.
The Cook Political Report has moved several GOP-controlled House seats of Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif., Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., and Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., from “lean Republican” status to “toss up” status.
While the voting records of Rep. Walters and MacArthur, two well-known Tuesday Group liberals, are abysmal, the threat to Rep. Perry’s seat, a staunch member of the House Freedom Caucus, should be a wake-up call for conservatives heading into November.
Republicans still have the opportunity to keep a key campaign promise and energize their base by acting to secure our southern border. The end of the fiscal year is coming on September 30, when Congress must pass a continuing resolution to fund the government. That’s also when they have the leverage to force the Democrats to vote for or against funding for the construction of a border wall.
Will they finally grow a pair and do so, even if it means a temporary “shutdown” battle with an open-borders Democrat party actively pushing to abolish ICE and flood our country with criminal illegal aliens?
It’s clear where the majority of Americans stand on these issues. They oppose abolishing ICE. They want border security and our immigration laws enforced. These are clear political winners for the Republican party.
It’s also clear that Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., lack the proper spinal calibration to stand with the American people and for American sovereignty.
Which brings us to our final point on the House outlook: Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, needs to be the next speaker of the House. End of story.
The Senate outlook
The Senate returns today to resume debate on the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. We highlighted this bad bill last week as reminder that the Republican-controlled Senate is using valuable floor time to advance a bevy of progressive priorities while taking a pass on fulfilling conservative policy priorities, such as defunding Planned Parenthood, defunding Obamacare, and radically scaling back funding for the Department of Education.
Additionally, the Labor-HHS funding bill has been joined to the Department of Defense funding bill in what is known as a “minibus” or miniature omnibus. This is little more than a cynical ploy to pass the more controversial Labor-HHS funding while using American servicemen and women as cover. This gives members an excuse for voting to fund progressive priorities, so that when asked if they voted to fund Obamacare or Planned Parenthood, they can pivot and claim they voted to “fund the troops.”
It’s likely that the Senate will pass this bill before week’s end before once again moving on to confirm a handful of judges next week.
Why even bother keeping the Senate in during some of the August recess if the GOP was just going to fund progressive priorities? While leadership may view this as “governing,” the conservative base that has repeatedly sent Republicans to Washington with a mandate to advance liberty likely doesn’t share that assessment.
The Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing this Thursday for the Trump Administration’s nominee to head up the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The OSTP was created in 1976 to provide the president with guidance on the scientific and technological aspects of the U.S. economy. This position is colloquially known as the president’s “science adviser.” The position has been vacant for the entirety of the Trump presidency. The last individual to hold it was John Holdren, who served all eight years under President Obama and was best known for wanting to enact “population control” to lower America’s fertility rates back in the 1960s. You just have to love progressives and their paganistic fetishes when it comes to science.
However, a few weeks ago, the president nominated Kelvin Droegemeier to serve as his first science adviser at the OSTP. While Droegemeier thankfully doesn’t follow in quite the same radical footsteps as John Holdren, he unfortunately appears to be a proponent of radical climate change statism, and his nomination should be very alarming for conservatives. And Holdren praised his nomination.
Indeed, that’s the common theme since the president announced Droegemeier’s nomination at the beginning of August — the sheer number of climate change alarmists bellowing their approval from the pews of the church of Gaia. Michael Mann, the radical leftist climate change professor from Penn State, praised Droegemeier’s nomination and declared him to hold “absolutely mainstream” views on climate change. Kei Koizumi, a former Obama administration official in the OSTP under Holdren, was quoted in The Atlantic praising Droegemeier as a “superb choice” for the office.
Droegemeier currently serves as the vice president for research at the University of Oklahoma. He has advised past Democrat governors on energy and climate issues. He has advocated for “taking action” to address climate change. And he has pushed for increased federal spending on science and research, including support for the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy at the Department of Energy — a $305 million crony grant program that the Trump administration has proposed to eliminate twice in its budget proposals.
So why is the president nominating a climate change proponent to serve as his science adviser? And why are Senate Republicans going along with it?
Summary: The Senate remains in session this week and continues to move a hugely statist appropriations bills with the funding of the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. There is little hope for the adoption of strong conservative amendments that advance liberty. A Republican-controlled Congress should be fighting Obamacare, prohibiting future insurance bailouts, defunding Planned Parenthood, and rolling back the federalization of education policy. It is doing none of those things. That puts this week’s liberty outlook at: Code red.
Additionally, the Senate appears hell-bent on rushing through a proponent of climate change alarmism to serve as the president’s science adviser. Ultimately, the blame for this nomination falls squarely on the president, but a Republican-controlled Congress has the ability (and many conservatives would say the obligation) to tell the president to try again.
The window to advance conservative policies in health care, education, spending, and border security is shrinking. If the blue wave hits this November, conservatives would do well to remember the time squandered. Mitch McConnell has indeed kept the Senate in session for much of August, but he has done so in order to advance a climate change proponent, confirm a handful of judges, and pass bills that fund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood instead of using the Republican majority to draw a sharp contrast with the increasingly socialist Democrats.
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.