Conservative lawmakers voiced their opposition to President Trump’s deal with Democratic congressional leaders, arguing the three-month government spending bill that also raises the debt ceiling should not be passed because it does not include federal spending cuts.
The chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee objected to the agreement in a letter to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), while Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) proposed an amendment to pass relief for Hurricane Harvey victims as a stand-alone bill in the upper chamber, decoupled from debates over federal spending and the debt ceiling.
The moves came just as news broke that Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) are working on a separate deal that would repeal the debt ceiling by December — My God, he’s giving up our hostage! — another betrayal by the president that would erase one of the few points of leverage conservatives have to extract spending cuts during high-stakes fiscal debates.
Opponents failed to derail the package combining $15.25 billion in Harvey aid with a temporary debt-ceiling hike and funding to keep the government open until Dec. 8. The Senate passed it on Thursday afternoon, sending it back to the House for final approval.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 80 to 17. All “no” votes were Republicans. Arizona Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain both voted “no.” (This was a “safety” vote — it was going to pass by a safe margin so they could afford to be dicks about it).
The situation facing conservatives represents a marked turnaround from earlier this year, when the typically powerful GOP faction thought they had a reliable ally in the president.
On Wednesday, however, Trump sent the hard right a new message: Your enemy’s enemy is not necessarily your friend.
The president’s quick embrace of a legislative strategy for a must-pass disaster relief bill proposed by the top Democratic leaders, Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), sets the stage for a grand negotiation later this year that will hand leverage to the minority and frustrate the majority’s governing ambitions.
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Outwardly, key conservative leaders blamed Ryan and McConnell (Ky.) for the concessions — extending the federal debt ceiling for only three months, allowing Democrats to use the threat of a government default to extract policy concessions on a spending bill that also must pass in mid-December.
“Let’s be clear,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told reporters Wednesday. “There was not a conservative option on the debt ceiling that was offered to the president.”
Both Freedom Caucus and Republican Study Committee members appeared poised to send a message this week by voting against the debt-and-spending deal Trump agreed to — showing they are willing not only to defy Trump, but also to risk political attacks for opposing relief for hurricane victims. If they deny the bill a majority of Republican votes, they will only add to the embarrassment for party leaders already reeling at the pact between Trump and Democrats.
It turns out that only 90 of these far-right Yahoos actually had the balls to vote against the debt-and-spending deal. House passes Trump deal on majority Democratic vote:
The House on Friday cleared a short-term measure to avoid a government shutdown and raise the debt limit through December, ratifying a deal President Trump struck with Democrats.
Lawmakers voted 316-90 for the package that includes more than $15 billion in disaster recovery aid for communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. The majority of House Republicans voted for the bill, something that had been uncertain, but more of the votes in favor came from Democrats.
All of the 90 votes in opposition were from Republicans.
Note: the vehicle used for this bill was “H.R. 601: Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act.” How Arizona’s Congressional delegation voted: YES: Gallego, Grijalva, McSally, O’Halleran, Sinema: NO: Biggs, Franks, Gosar, Schweikert.
The House voted earlier in the week to approve a standalone measure to provide federal assistance for Harvey relief in an overwhelming 419-3 vote. But many conservatives balked at the final bill, which became a three-month extension of the debt ceiling with no spending reforms.
Under the package approved Friday, government funding will run out on Dec. 8.
The measure also includes a temporary extension of the National Flood Insurance Program that will expire on the same date.
The disaster aid includes $7.4 billion for disaster relief, $7.4 billion in emergency funds for Community Development Block Grants and $450 million for the Small Business Administration disaster loan program.
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For the Freedom Caucus, Wednesday’s betrayal came weeks after their most important White House ally, chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, left the Trump administration and rekindled his rear-guard war on the establishment. Trump’s decision to side with Democrats fits with a right-wing [conspiracy theory] narrative that his administration is under internal siege from “globalist” [read “International Jewish conspiracy”] advisers with a moderate agenda.
Meadows met Monday with Bannon to plot the months ahead, and on Wednesday night he warned Ryan in a private meeting that a failure to enact conservative priorities could imperil his speakership.
In fact, these right-wing Yahoos are once again conspiring to replace the House Speaker. Gingrich or Santorum as speaker? House conservatives plot mischief for the fall.
Several influential House conservatives are privately plotting ways to use the legislative calendar this fall to push their hard-line agenda — including quiet discussions about possibly mounting a leadership challenge to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.
The group has gone so far as to float the idea of recruiting former House speaker Newt Gingrich or former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum as potential replacements for Ryan (R-Wis.) should there be a rebellion. The Constitution does not require that an elected member of the House serve as speaker.
While the chances that a non-House member could mount a credible threat to Ryan are exceedingly slim, the fact that the group has even toyed with the idea underscores their desire to create trouble for GOP leaders if they believe their demands are not being addressed.
The closed-door conversations are being led by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, in consultation with his allies on the right, in particular Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist who recently returned to his perch as executive chairman of the Breitbart News website. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Freedom Caucus members are also involved in the talks to varying degrees, according to nearly a dozen people with knowledge of the discussions.
On Wednesday, Meadows, Jordan and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) took their concerns directly to Ryan, telling him in a private meeting in the Capitol that his failure to enact conservative priorities could diminish his support among conservatives.
Even so, the group of more than 30 conservative House lawmakers is unlikely to stage a successful coup to push out Ryan and has so far shown unease about translating their grievances into action. But the mere fact that they are discussing the prospect — and strategizing with Bannon — underscores both their desire and ability to disrupt an already daunting legislative schedule.
Democrats have rescued the country from these far-right Yahoos, for now. See you in December.