COMPASS: A Full Issue Slate For A Hot DC Summer

May 29th, 2024

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.

Both chambers are out of session but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on! Here are a few things to watch for in the coming weeks.

Appropriations On The Move

Congressional appropriations committees are already hard at work preparing spending bills for fiscal year 2025, which begins in September. However, there is a strategic decision to be made, as these bills will fund the government for the next year – that is, possibly into the first year of a Republican presidency. Congressional Democrats have made no secret of their efforts to use these bills to “Trump-proof” the federal government in advance of the next administration. With that in mind, conservatives are considering an alternative: passing a short-term Continuing Resolution into March of 2025.

Such an action would do two things: First, prevent Democrats from making year-long policy changes designed to hamstring a future administration for years in advance, and second, to pave the way for the next administration to leave their imprint on spending bills early in the next term. 

See more on this from Center for Renewing America’s Russ Vought.

Who Will Lead the Senate GOP?

Sen. Rick Scott has announced his entry into the race for Senate GOP leader. When Mitch McConnell announced he will step down as Leader at the end of the year (though remain in the Senate to, as he put it, fight his party’s “isolationist movement”), GOP Whip John Thune and Sen. John Cornyn were quick to put themselves forward as potential replacements.

The entrance of conservative Rick Scott adds a new dimension to the race. Scott ran against McConnell for Leader in 2022, netting 10 votes on a secret ballot. McConnell, famous for his petty and retaliatory tactics, responded by kicking Scott and fellow conservative Sen. Mike Lee off the Commerce Committee, and denying freshman senator and former Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (rumored to have voted against McConnell) a prime slot on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In a letter to his colleagues, Scott laid out a few of the issues he hopes to reform as Leader:

I think we need to be way more transparent with each other and the American people. There have been far too many backroom deals cut in secret, rarely do things go through the committee process, and it’s accepted practice to not allow amendment votes to trillion-dollar spending bills. We are routinely surprised with legislation and asked to vote on it without having had any input or even time to review it. Rarely do we work in concert with Republicans in the House, and the Senate far too often passes legislation that is supported by 100% of the Democrats, and only a quarter of our Republican Conference. We too often take votes that divide us and unite Democrats. Republicans all across America want the Republicans they elected to the U.S. Senate to stop caving in to Democrat demands.

Republicans will vote on their new Leader as early as November.

Merrick Garland And The Tapes

On May 16, the House Judiciary and Oversight Committee voted to advance a resolution holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress over his refusal to comply with a subpoena for audio recordings of President Biden’s October interviews with former Special Counsel Robert Hur. 

Hur, as you may recall, declined to prosecute Biden over his handling of classified documents because, as he put it, Biden was a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” and possessed “diminished faculties in advancing age” which raised questions over whether or not a “mental state of willfulness” could be established.

The Department of Justice has turned over transcripts of Biden’s interviews with Hur but not the audio recordings, despite two House subpoenas requesting them. Instead, Biden has invoked executive privilege over the audio.

“I think people understand when you talk about the fact that it is co-equal branches of government, GOP Majority Whip Tom Emmer told Politico, noting that DOJ hasn’t offered to let anyone come down and listen to the tape. “You released the transcript . . . so the only reason you wouldn’t provide the audio is perhaps it doesn’t match the transcript.”

The contempt resolution now proceeds to the full House for a vote.

The Latest From Around The Conservative Movement

One More Thing…

The Daily Signal’s Mary Margaret Olohan is out with her first book, Detrans: True Stories of Escaping The Gender Ideology Cult. She recently discussed her investigations and interviews that led to the book on American Moment’s podcast, which you can watch here.