Opinion: Morning Examiner

Morning Examiner: Libertarian populists giving establishment Republicans headaches

By |
Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll,Morning Examiner,Republican Party,Analysis,Libertarian Populism

House Republican leaders were forced to pull an appropriations bill from the House floor Wednesday after yet another round of GOP infighting prevented the chamber from presenting a unified response to Senate Democrats’ spending plans.

Setting the stage for a September showdown
House Republicans easily passed the latest version of Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s, R-Wis., spending plan this spring, but, like all budget plans, that document just outlined spending levels for each appropriation bill. Now the House must come back and fill in all the details before they can send the funding bills to the Senate.

Not that the Senate would do anything with the House bills. For the first time in more than four years, the Senate passed its own budget this spring, with higher spending everywhere but defense, and is now busily passing appropriations bills as well.

The House and Senate both expect to use their own appropriations bills as the starting points for negotiation over a continuing resolution this September. But if House Republicans can’t even pass their own spending bills now, their negotiating position will be weakened in September.

Moderate Republicans still love their pork
Moderate Republicans may have all voted for Ryan’s budget blueprint in the Spring, but now that the reality of those spending cuts are becoming clear, they are balking.

The Transportation and Housing and Urban Development spending bill pulled Wednesday, for example, cut spending on the Community Development Block Grant program from $3.8 billion in FY 2013 to $1.6 billion in FY 2014. The CDBG is a classic big government/crony capitalist boondoggle long objected to by limited government conservatives.

But the “Tuesday Group” of moderate Republicans said they could not vote for the bill unless their districts got their CDBG spending restored, and even after House leadership agreed to put back $350 million of pork back into the bill, the moderate Republicans still walked.

Not an isolated incident
This is not the first time House leadership has failed to bridge the gap between big-government moderate Republicans and conservative mainstream GOPers. Even after House leaders agreed to split the farm bill from the food stamp bill, more libertarian conservatives still objected to the large increases in crop insurance spending in the bill (the bill actually did decrease direct farm subsidies, but not as much as libertarian Republicans wanted).

Spending is not the only area where libertarians have been giving Republican leaders headaches. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., forced a close vote on the NSA’s domestic surveillance program this week and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., forced the Senate to take a tough vote on cutting aid to Egypt Wednesday as well.

A Pew Research poll released Wednesday shows that the Republican party is currently in flux on a slew of major policy issues. Those exact same divisions were on display yesterday in Congress.

From The Washington Examiner
Editorial: No wonder McCarthy wants to ignore job-killing EPA regulations
Michal Conger: House investigators often get cold shoulder from Obama’s executive branch
Tim Carney: Obama’s 50 most beautiful lobbyists
Sean Lengell: Senate kills effort to cut off aid to Egypt
Susan Ferrechio: House abandons efforts to pass infrastructure spending bill before recess
Joel Gehrke: Democratic ‘veterans of the tobacco wars’ take aim at energy drinks
David Drucker: GOP wants to kill Obamacare but is divided over how to do it
Byron York: Ted Cruz denies saying ‘surrender caucus’ — the record says otherwise
Joseph Lawler: Fed announces no changes, provides no further detail on stimulus plans
Sean Higgins: Immigration activists signal willingness to compromise further
Conn Carroll: Amnesty lobby already walking back border enforcement before current amnesty even signed

In Other News
Associated PressArk.’s Tom Cotton to run for U.S. Senate: Arkansas Republican Rep. Tom Cotton plans to announce his bid next week to challenge two-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in next year’s elections, according to a person familiar with the congressman’s plans.
Pew ResearchRepublicans Want Change, But Split over Party’s Direction: Coming off of two consecutive presidential election defeats, most Republican voters believe that their party must address major problems to be more competitive in the future. And roughly six-in-ten say improved messaging alone will not be enough – the GOP also needs to reconsider some of its positions.
McClatchy NewspapersMilitary considers cutting 25% of Army personnel, Marines to trim its budget for sequester: The military faces one of two options in order to meet mandatory across-the-board budget cuts, says Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel: chopping the number of personnel or limiting its technological edge.
Associated PressUS economic growth likely weakened in 2nd quarter: A Commerce Department report showed the U.S. economy barely grew from April through June.

Lefty Playbook
Talking Points Memo‘s Brian Beutler says the failure of the transportation appropriations bill in the Hosue shows conservatism is doomed.
Ed Kilgore says the new Pew poll on Republicans shows “the fever isn’t breaking.”
Think Progress says Republican food stamp cuts will force 5 million kids off the program.

Righty Playbook
George Will says government unions killed Detroit.
Ramesh Ponnuru on the emerging GOP 2016 field.
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., says the House will reform immigration gradually.
Victor Davis Hanson on the opening for a conservative populism.

View article comments Leave a comment