COMPASS: Conservative Victories In Sight, Road Blocks Visible

June 16th, 2023

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.

The House and Senate were both back in session this week and will be through June 23, when both chambers will depart for the July 4, two week recess. Both bodies will then come back the week of July 10 for what will certainly be a busy month.

This week, the leadership of the House and the House Freedom Caucus resumed negotiations on what is being called the “power sharing agreement” – or the coalition of members needed to pass legislation. This power sharing agreement was what led to Rep. Kevin McCarthy becoming Speaker of the House. It is the way to establish a “coalition government” and ensure conservative priorities are a part of what is voted on in the House.

These priorities are going to have to be a part of the major bills that the House will consider this year – Appropriations, the NDAA, FISA, the Farm Bill etc. – or, as conservatives have shown, are willing to use the procedural tools at their disposal to prevent bills from passing.

For example, the House Committee on Armed Services this week began the process of marking up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the subcommittees. There are many issues to resolve in the NDAA, like resolving the woke parts of the Armed Forces, not stripping Americans of the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, auditing the spending going to Ukraine, and dealing with the DOD’s new abortion policy that Sen. Tuberville is attempting to end by blocking the promotion of officers.

In the Appropriations Committee, the House is moving forward with its markups of FY 2024 spending bills after a brief pause to figure out the debt ceiling deal. Chairwoman Kay Granger announced this week that, “We’ll use the appropriations process in the House to stake out our priorities and reverse the reckless spending of the last two years.” But, according to former Office of Management and Budget Director, Russ Vought, the marking up of fiscal 2024 spending bills at 2022 levels “…is not real. It will rely on rescissions of Biden excess spending to keep agency spending high.” Not only is he saying that, but Congressman Matt Gaetz is suggesting the same thing: “Our leadership is using a budgetary gimmick to try to represent spending cuts that are illusory. And that is not sitting well with House conservatives.” In response to conservatives using the thin majority to advance their priorities, some moderates in the conference are pushing back. Congressman Don Bacon suggested forming a new working coalition with those on the other side of the aisle saying, “At some point we gotta just do coalition government with the Democrats and cut these guys out.”

Next week will be instructive for where these conversations are headed as conservatives and leadership continue to work to reform the coalition that’s been successful in advancing conservative legislation so far this congress.

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