Commentary by Mark Shiver
Yet again many Republicans in Congress have stepped up to the budget plate – but whiffed wildly when given a chance to hit a home run for conservative principles. The only positive to come out of Wednesday’s passing of a continuing budget resolution was that GOP lawmakers left town afterwards before they could do anything else. In a Congress where Republicans are in the majority in both the House and the Senate, it is liberalism and big-spending Democrats who are really in charge.
The $1.1 trillion continuing budget resolution included funding for programs that were vigorously opposed by conservatives. Nestled inside $1.1 billion in funding for Zika virus response and preparedness is funding for Planned Parenthood, including also $60 million for Profamilias, its affiliate in Puerto Rico.
The efforts to have this funding excluded were quashed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY. McConnell also did not allow an amendment by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, which would ensure the United States would maintain control of the Internet. (Listen to Berin Szoka of TechFreedom explain the importance of this issue on “What Matters in North Carolina”). In addition, there were not allowed any exclusions to funding for President Obama’s aggressively anti-conservative executive programs. Daniel Horowitz wrote on September 29, 2016 at Conservative Review, “This bill funded every major Democratic policy priority with no meaningful limitations on a single illegal, abusive, or harmful executive action taken by the president. It contained no limitations or reforms to Obamacare, Planned Parenthood funding, Obama’s transgender bathroom mandate on the states, sanctuary cities, or DACA amnesty.”
The party that has the majority in Congress has effectively been neutered. There is no evidence of conservative leadership among the Republicans, with the exception of a few senators and House members who still remember those who sent them to Washington and why.
Regarding the continuing resolution vote, there were only 14 Republicans in the Senate who voted “nay.” For folks in North Carolina, neither Sen. Richard Burr nor Sen. Thom Tillis were among those 14. In the House, only 75 members of the majority party voted against, including North Carolina Reps. Renee Ellmers, George Holding, Walter Jones, Mark Meadows, and Mark Walker.
In a story on September 29, Life Site News reported that Heritage Action’s Dan Holler blasted the deal, saying, “House Republicans accept being jammed and essentially sit on the side lines” and “negotiate behind closed doors with Democrats, essentially giving them what they want.” Sadly, there seems to be no rudder of conservatism navigating the Congressional majority.
The really bad news is that this continuing resolution only lasts until December 9, which means a lame-duck Congress will come back after the elections and likely serve the American people another plate of big spending and government overreach. With some legislators retiring and some possibly not being re-elected, what little constraint will likely be cast aside in what looms as a truly lame-duck session. Between now and then, however, conservative voters do have the chance to let their disappointment be known at the ballot box in November.