Forgive us for being a mite cynical about what’s going on in Congress these days, but having worked at the White House, The Senate and the House we’ve seen a lot of this before.
The announcement that Speaker Kevin McCarthy has authorized an “impeachment inquiry” into President Joe Biden was greeted with cheers by many conservatives, and the news that House Oversight Chairman James Comer was going to lead the inquiry made it sound even better, as CHQ readers who have been following our coverage of Chairman Comer’s hearings will already know.
For a really good and fairly concise summary of the basis for the impeachment inquiry go to our friends at Americans for Limited Government and this great article by Robert Romano.
However, about the same time Speaker McCarthy was announcing that the long-sought impeachment inquiry could get going, conservatives were holding a press conference about appropriations bill policy riders and the prospects for returning federal spending to 2019 (Pre-COVID) levels.
Members of the Freedom Caucus hosted a presser demanding that McCarthy refuse to negotiate stopgap funding measure to keep the government open through December without securing significant concessions from Senate Democrats.
The Court House News Service reported House conservatives doubled down on their demands for any sort of budget deal, focusing largely on their opposition to a short-term budget patch without any conditions.
“The country gave House Republicans the majority to change the course of Congress,” said Georgia Representative Andrew Clyde. “Greenlighting a so-called clean, unqualified or blind [continuing resolution] is out of the question.”
Clyde added that such a clean stopgap budget would “endanger Speaker McCarthy’s leadership.”
Freedom Caucus’s position is that it will not support any continuing budget resolution that does not include language from a House-passed border security bill. A stopgap bill would also need to cut U.S. aid for Ukraine and end what Republicans call the “weaponization” of the Justice Department — altogether, provisions nonstarters for Democrats.
As for the larger budget, lawmakers slammed what they positioned as reckless federal spending. The Freedom Caucus has demanded that the government’s 2024 budget drastically slash appropriations to 2022 levels.
“I will not continue to fund this government at war with the American people,” said Texas Congressman Chip Roy, railing on inflation, taxes and Covid-19 restrictions.
In a separate appearance, Rep. Matt Gaetz said he would move to take away House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s gavel "every day" if the GOP leader is not in "compliance" with key demands he listed out on the House floor Tuesday.
"No continuing resolutions — individual spending bills or bust. Votes on balanced budgets and term limits. Subpoenas for Hunter Biden and the members of the Biden family who've been grifting off of this country. And the impeachment for Joe Biden that he so richly deserves," Gaetz listed. "Do these things or face a motion to vacate the chair."
We’ve seen this every budget cycle.
Conservatives announce their demands, knowing they won’t get everything, but figuring they won’t get anything if they don’t ask for it.
House and Senate leadership (the collective leadership of Democrats and Republicans) says ‘NO’ and always manages to somehow come up with the votes by buying off whatever few members of the other party are necessary to pass the Continuing Resolution, Omnibus, or whatever vehicle they devise to keep the spending train going.
Conservatives retreat, as they did after McCarthy’s debt ceiling deal with Democrats, to grumble, lick their wounds and wonder how they got hosed again.
But this time there’s an added twist – the impeachment inquiry.
The primary tool that conservatives have used to get the modest spending reforms that have passed (all to be undone later) was the threat of a government “shutdown” and withholding their votes on final passage of the bill.
With the GOP holding such a slim majority one would think that such a threat would carry added weight this time around, but such may not be the case – and here’s why.
Remember that impeachment inquiry?
Guess what can’t go forward if the government is shut down – the impeachment inquiry.
Even if Congressional staff is exempted from the effects of the “shutdown” all the drones at the National Archives who would be tasked with turning over the Biden emails and documents, all IRS, FBI and Department of Justice employees who are witnesses will be furloughed during the shutdown.
You can bet every one of them will be designated as a nonessential employee, so instead of being in DC digging through Biden’s records, sitting for their depositions and testimony, they will be on a beach somewhere waiting for the government to become un-shutdown.
So, are we the only ones who think this was by design, and that Speaker McCarthy planned to put conservatives in the unenviable position of having to vote for another giant spending bill or delay and possibly kill the impeachment inquiry?
It is easy to confuse deviousness with intelligence. We stand by our oft stated claim that Kevin McCarthy isn’t very smart, but this play shows that he can be devious as hell when it serves his interests.
Chairman James Comer
Mike Lee Letter
debt ceiling default
work requirements for welfare
Limit, Save, Grow Act
Reclaim COVID spending
Fiscal Responsibility Act