COMPASS: Red Lines for Spending Debate

August 23rd, 2023

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.

The House and Senate are both out for their August recess. The House is scheduled to return on September 12, with the Senate scheduled to return September 5.

The August recess is more than halfway through and the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) has come out with an official position on the spending deadline this Fall: “No Security, No Funding”. The HFC position has three main points, followed by two other redlines. As Senator Mike Lee put it, “America can’t afford kicking this can down the road any longer” and as Congressman Andrew Clyde has plainly summed up their position, “A ‘clean’ CR is completely out of the question.”

Their first point is any spending measure must include the House-passed “Secure the Border Act of 2023”. This bill, widely praised by conservatives, passed the House 219-213 in early May. It is viewed by many conservatives as the key piece of legislation to begin to turn the tide on the country’s border crisis. As George Fishman at the Center for Immigration Studies put it, “I have analyzed many of the provisions of ‘H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023’, which would provide the Department of Homeland Security with powerful tools to clean up the Biden administration’s mess at the border – and even force the administration to clean up its own mess.” During the bill’s consideration, a coalition of conservative groups wrote, “…the proposal represents a common-sense response to the chaos unleashed by the Biden Administration and would prevent further abuse of immigration laws to usher in even more mass illegal immigration.”

Their second point identifies the growing concern of the woke and weaponized parts of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigations. They write that any spending measure must, “Address the unprecedented weaponization of the Justice Department and FBI to focus them on prosecuting real criminals instead of conducting political witch hunts and targeting law-abiding citizens.” The Center for Renewing America (CRA) has detailed specific areas where the FBI’s wokeness can be cut out. Specifically, CRA points to a case where the FBI spied on private Facebook messages without court authorized subpoenas. “The bureau employed informants and undercover agents to infiltrate an online group called the Wolverine Watchmen. The FBI provided training, equipment, and transportation resources to entrap the group in a conspiracy to kidnap the Michigan governor.”

Their third point brings the social engineering at the Pentagon into focus. The House passed National Defense Authorization Act addresses many of these policies, such as ending the Pentagon’s diversity and inclusion program, banning transgender surgeries in the Armed Forces, and adopting an amendment offered by Congressman Ronny Jackson, that would end the illegal abortion tourism program. This is the same fight that Senator Tommy Tuberville has been championing for so long.

The last two points of the letter, while not numbered, are critical process points that play out so often in Washington. Many times, the Congress will pass short-term Continuing Resolutions (CR) to “continue working” on appropriations legislation. All too often, passing numerous CRs results in Omnibus legislation on Christmas eve or a couple days before – using the pressure of Christmas to force action. Be on the lookout for increased pressure and messaging on this as the August recess days come to a close.

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