COMPASS: Budget Battle Lines Drawn

February 23rd, 2023

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.

The House and Senate are both out of session and will return to Washington next week. The most deliberative legislative body in the world, the United States Senate, seems content to just process nominations with little else scheduled.

The House of Representatives will be in session four out of the next five weeks as they barrel towards the budget and appropriations seasons. There has been a lot of discussion surrounding how conservatives should approach the budget and spending fights, due to the House Freedom Caucus securing a commitment from House leadership to have FY22 as their baseline for appropriations. 

At the center of many of these discussions is the current President of the Center for Renewing America and former Trump White House OMB Director, Russ Vought, who has laid out a visionary budget for how to tackle “the woke and weaponized” parts of the federal bureaucracy. Included in his budget, Vought writes, “America cannot be saved unless the current grip of woke and weaponized government is broken. That is the central and immediate threat facing the country – the one that all our statesmen must rise tall to vanquish. The battle cannot wait.” 

The Washington Post took to identifying Vought as a key player in these negotiations, writing, “As Republicans struggle to craft a strategy for confronting the Biden administration over the debt ceiling, which limits how much the government can borrow to pay for spending Congress has already approved, Vought has supplied them with a seemingly inexhaustible stream of advice: suggestions for negotiating with the White House, briefings about dealing with the media, a 104-page memo that proposes specific spending levels for every federal agency.

Even MSNBC recognizes his involvement in these discussions.

This very approach lies at the heart of the debate. While some argue that we should tackle Social Security and Medicare first, an effort congressional leaders have failed in succeeding at, Vought and many conservatives on Capitol Hill believe congressional leaders should focus on the areas where we can make gains – the annual appropriations process. Identifying, singling out, and then cutting the parts of government that are labeling parents domestic terrorists, arresting pro-life actors, and funding racism in the government, are their top targets.

This approach ties into the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government” housed in the Judiciary Committee, run by Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH). This select subcommittee is designed to identify and pursue the abuses of power and corruption that have taken over the institutions. Recently, the subcommittee held their first hearing where testimony was given by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), and former FBI officials all alleging the seriousness of the corruption and mishandling of power at the FBI. Keeping an eye on the investigative power and direction of this select subcommittee is a must.

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