Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.
The House and Senate are both in town this week, though the House’s workweek is slightly truncated. The big news this week is a government funding deadline on Friday, March 11. Congress has passed three Continuing Resolutions for FY 2022 – straight extension of funds – to give themselves more time to negotiate an omnibus spending bill (a massive spending bill containing all 12 appropriations bills).
But the situation in Ukraine has added a measure of urgency on Capitol Hill, particularly with the Department of Defense and the Department of State chafing against the budget restraints imposed by continued CRs. Late last week, the White House requested Congress add an additional $10 billion in funding for Ukraine.
Specifically, the White House has requested $4.8 billion toward DOD troop deployments to countries surrounding Ukraine and to provide military equipment to Ukraine, as well as $5 billion to the State Department and USAID for security, economic assistance, and humanitarian aid.
The White House request also includes an ask for $22.5 billion for continued efforts surrounding COVID19. Republicans appear to be pushing back on the additional funds. 36 Republicans recently sent a letter to the White House asking why additional funding is needed when COVID19 funding appropriated to states has not been spent, and citing the lack of transparency in the $6 trillion already approved to date.
Congressional Republicans are also demanding that the forthcoming spending effort address key priorities like vaccine mandates. 39 House Republicans and 10 Senate Republicans have sent separate letters demanding that the omnibus bill defund vaccine mandates. The House Freedom Caucus is also demanding that the vote for military and humanitarian funding to Ukraine be separate from the omnibus spending bill, which funds domestic priorities. The HFC is also requesting that the omnibus include policies that implement energy independence and border security. Leading conservatives have echoed their requests.
There appears to be broad cross-party support in Congress for banning US importation of Russian oil, which amounts to roughly 200,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The White House, however, is reportedly lobbying Democrats on the hill to oppose such a policy, citing its impact on domestic gas prices. Rather than support efforts to increase domestic capacities of energy production, Biden is contemplating asking Saudi Arabia to pump more oil for US import.
On a separate note, you may have seen that Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fl.) has upset Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) by doing what conservatives have long asked for – issuing a detailed agenda of what he thinks Republicans should stand for and run on in 2022. I wrote about his agenda and the establishment vs conservative tit-for-tat here, and Scott responded to McConnell’s criticism in the Wall Street Journal here.
The Latest from Around the Conservative Movement
- Russ Vought on the political opportunities presented in cultural fights
- US gas prices reach 14-year high
- This Russia hoaxer is trying to evade criminal charges, but special counsel John Durham won’t let him
- Biden’s wokeness on energy policy is weakness
- Congressional Republicans: defund Biden vaccine mandates or we won’t vote to stop a government shutdown
One More Thing…
If you haven’t been following the election audits coming out of Wisconsin, you should. A new report from the state special counsel finds that the nearly $9 million in Zuckerberg-Chan Foundation grant funds directed to Democratic strongholds in Wisconsin violated the state’s election law regarding bribery. The same report uncovered “widespread election fraud” in the state’s nursing homes.