Trump plans to grab the power of the purse from Congress

The Constitution gives the power to allocate federal funding to Congress, but Donald Trump isn’t about to let that stop him. Trump has made no secret that he wants to restore presidential impoundment, a power that has been severely limited since 1974, and seize the power of the purse away from Congress.

As The Washington Post reports, Trump’s ambitions go beyond just bringing back a power that was limited after Richard Nixon abused it to shut down programs he didn’t like, such as blocking billions Congress had authorized for subsidized housing. Presidential impoundment is both a sword and a scalpel, capable of eliminating entire departments or taking out individual programs.

Trump has already made it clear he means to purge the federal government, dismantle existing agencies, and replace career federal employees with an army of supporters loyal only to Trump. He’s also determined to turn the Department of Justice and FBI into agents of his retribution, allowing him to round up and imprison political opponents. And those are just a few of the choice pieces of destruction laid out by Trump and his cohorts in their 887-page Project 2025 playbook.

But even with Republicans in Congress shedding every member not committed to the MAGA cause, Trump still would not have every lever of power in his tiny hands so long as Congress can determine the spending. So he wants to end that control.

“Presidential Impoundment”—refusing to spend money authorized by Congress—was a power that had been exercised by many presidents going back to Thomas Jefferson, but most instances involved small amounts and concerns over funds that were duplicated or in conflict. It wasn’t until Nixon began treating the impoundment power as a kind of line-item veto, blocking tens of billions from programs that didn’t fit his agenda, that Congress took action to limit this power by passing the Impoundment Control Act of 1974.

Ending this act has become part of the right-wing agenda to create a powerful authoritarian president. The Federalist Society insists that the 1974 act ended the president’s “constitutional spending authority,” though no such authority exists in the Constitution. Bringing back impoundments is also part of Project 2025.

Trump already attempted to violate the Impoundment Control Act during his first time in office. That includes the events leading up to his first impeachment when he illegally impounded funds that had been authorized for Ukraine.

In 2023, Trump gave a speech making clear that he wants to end controls on impoundments to strangle any program he doesn’t like.

“I will then use the president’s long-recognized Impoundment Power to squeeze the bloated federal bureaucracy for massive savings,” Trump said in a video address now posted to his campaign site. 

Unlimited use of the Impoundment Act goes well beyond even the authority of a line-item veto. It would allow Trump to halt funds at any time to inflict pain or apply pressure. It’s easy to see how this program might be used to force a weakened Congress into signing on to legislation provided by Trump, to slice out programs that had fallen out of favor, or to destroy whole departments. It’s hard to see how Congress could negotiate any kind of meaningful legislation when Trump could come in and selectively block funding. 

It’s not hard to see how this could be an extension of Trump’s ability to punish his enemies, especially in the wake of calls to “defund” the entire state of New York following Trump’s felony conviction on 34 counts in a Manhattan courtroom. It’s an idea that seems laughable … until you add impoundment.

A limited presidential impoundment ability was arguably beneficial over the nation’s first 200 years. However, it was unsupported by anything in the Constitution and lost in the only case in which it was directly challenged in the Supreme Court. That doesn’t mean that it would lose now, with a Republican-dominated court that seems anxious to hand Trump all the authority he wants. 

An unlimited presidential impoundment authority isn’t a “budgetary issue.” It’s full control of the entire government. Which is exactly why it’s on Trump’s agenda.

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GOP senators demand impeachment trial as government shutdown looms

With a government shutdown looming, 13 Republican senators, led by Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas’ pretend cowboy Sen. Ted Cruz, released a letter they said they sent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell demanding he make a big stink about holding an impeachment trial for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Lee even posted a copy of the letter with some vaguely legible signatures to his X (formerly Twitter) account. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to dismiss the bogus bit of political theater.

The Republican-led House was able to impeach Mayorkas after one embarrassing failure of an attempt, making it the first time a Cabinet official has been impeached in 150 years. The Senate GOP members making hay out of the impeachment process continue to remind the public how Democratic officials proved (and Republican officials admitted) the entire exercise was disingenuous.

The letter, which was signed by Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Eric Schmitt, Rick Scott, Ron Johnson, J.D. Vance, Roger Marshall, Josh Hawley, Mike Braun, Tommy Tuberville, Ted Budd, Cynthia Lummis, and Marsha Blackburn, contains a lot of what we have come to expect from the do-nothing Republican Party. The general pantomime of the GOP around the impeachment of Mayorkas involves an imaginary belief that the GOP is strong on border security. It is fitting that conservative senators like Lee, who voted against the bipartisan border security deal, would also spend their time trying to create a political theater production of impeachment instead of making the hard compromises and decisions needed to get things done.

Senators like Cruz have used their party’s disarray to take shots at current leaders like McConnell. On Sunday, Cruz told Fox News that “if Republican leadership in the Senate doesn’t like the criticism, here’s an opportunity to demonstrate some backbone.” Cruz and Lee are joined by self-promoters like Sen. Josh Hawley, who has had his own public spats with Republican leadership in recent months.

The government is set to shut down on March 1. House Republicans seem unable to chew gum and … chew gum. Senate Republicans who spent many decades in lockstep with McConnell’s leadership seem to have lost the ability to tie their shoes. The Senate is coming off of an 11-day recess. McConnell has not responded to inquiries from media outlets for his response to the letter as of the writing of this story.

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Ohhhhh yeah! Democrats kicked ass and then some in Tuesday's special election in New York, so of course we're talking all about it on this week's episode of "The Downballot." Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard explain how Tom Suozzi's win affects the math for Democrats' plan to take back the House, then dive into the seemingly bottomless list of excuses Republicans have been making to handwave their defeat away. The bottom line: Suozzi effectively neutralized attacks on immigration—and abortion is still a huge loser for the GOP.

Marjorie Taylor Greene asks if Republicans are ‘being bribed’ to oppose impeachment

Marjorie Taylor Greene gave a doozy of an interview with right-wing podcast host Charlie Kirk on Wednesday to commiserate about House Republicans’ failed impeachment vote Tuesday of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

Greene has been big mad about the failed vote and, like many of her pro-impeachment colleagues, is looking for someone—anyone—to blame, including Democrats for trying “to throw us off on the numbers.” 

But Greene has plenty of disdain for the Republicans who voted against the bill too. When Kirk asked why Ken Buck of Colorado, Tom McClintock of California, and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin voted against impeachment, Greene seemed flabbergasted—but didn’t rule out the possibility that “they’re being bribed.”

Kirk fed the Georgia congresswoman the utterly baseless idea, asking, “Do you think these people are being blackmailed by the intel agencies? They might have had relations with certain  people and pictures and compromised. Do you think that they're currently being blackmailed?”

And Greene took the bait.

You know, I have no proof of that, but again, I can't understand the vote. So, nothing surprises me in Washington, D.C. anymore, Charlie. Literally, nothing surprises me because—it doesn't make sense to anyone, right? Why would anyone vote no? Why would anyone protect Mayorkas unless they're being bribed, unless there's something going on, unless they're making a deal. You know, because you can't understand it. It makes no sense. And it's completely wrong to vote no on impeachment.

Greene also speculated that Buck, who is retiring, is “trying to get a job working for CNN like Adam Kinzinger.” She insisted that McClintock is clearly not a real “constitutionalist.” And after listing off all of Gallagher’s military intelligence and military bonafides, she concluded, “I can't understand why he made that vote. But he did.” 

Greene might not understand it, but that doesn’t mean these Republican congressmen haven’t been clear and open about their reasons for voting against the impeachment stunt. 

Gallagher explained his opposition in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Why I Voted Against the Alejandro Mayorkas Impeachment.” 

“Creating a new, lower standard for impeachment, one without any clear limiting principle, wouldn’t secure the border or hold Mr. Biden accountable,” he wrote. “It would only pry open the Pandora’s box of perpetual impeachment.”

McClintock also explained his opposition in a speech on the House floor before Tuesday’s vote.

“Cabinet secretaries can't serve two masters. They can be impeached for committing a crime related to their office but not for carrying out presidential policy,” he said. “I'm afraid that stunts like this don't help."

On Wednesday, McClintock appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” to again defend his vote, and responded to Greene saying McClintock needs to “read the room.

“I suggest she read the Constitution that she took an oath to support and defend,” he said. “That Constitution very clearly lays out the grounds for impeachment,” he said. “This dumbs down those grounds dramatically and would set a precedent that could be turned against the conservatives on the Supreme Court or a future Republican administration the moment the Democrats take control of the Congress.”

Nevertheless, Greene “can’t understand” why her Republican colleagues weren’t on board with her impeachment aspirations. It must be a conspiracy.  

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Instead of working on keeping government open, Marjorie Taylor Greene tries to impeach head of DHS

On Thursday, the Republican-led House decided that after having wasted weeks arguing about who should be their next speaker, they needed to take a nice long weekend. With eight days left to fund our government, the Republican Party still can’t get its act together long enough to pass anything.

Mere days before Veterans Day, while some House members used their time to commemorate U.S. veterans, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene stood up and spoke for a very long time—and introduced articles of impeachment against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

This is nothing new for Greene, who has authored about a half-dozen articles of impeachment against Biden and others in his administration. On Tuesday, instead of working toward a Republican consensus to keep the government open, Greene passed an amendment to have Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg’s salary reduced to $1.

Greene is not alone. Targeting Mayorkas has been a way for conservatives to pretend the Biden administration has failed to secure America’s borders. Xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment appear to be the only things resembling policy for Republicans. The logic of how dismantling the U.S. government’s ability to operate will help improve … its operation … remains a mystery.

Did the Republicans vote on anything else?

Yesterday, 106 Republicans voted to eliminate all staff in the Office of the Vice President. Today, 165 Republicans voted to reduce the salary of the White House Press Secretary to $1 pic.twitter.com/o3pttAUr7w

— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) November 9, 2023

With a Republican shutdown looming, the GOP seems able to produce only political theater aimed at hampering the government’s ability to serve the American people. This week’s election results suggest the American people have noticed.

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The band is back together, and it is a glorious day as Markos and Kerry’s hot takes over the past year came true—again! Republicans continue to lose at the ballot box and we are here for it!

The Senate appears to be uniting against right-wing House extremists

The Senate appears to be uniting against right-wing House extremists, subjecting Speaker Kevin McCarthy to possibly the biggest test to his leadership to date: averting a government shutdown while responding to this year’s catastrophic natural disasters and maintaining assistance to Ukraine. The two top Senate appropriators have an agreement on a spending bill that will come to the floor next week, and Republican leader Mitch McConnell has been using his bully pulpit to keep aid flowing to Ukraine.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who together lead the Appropriations Committee, announced Wednesday that they have reached a deal on a spending package that will include funding for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; Transportation; Housing and Urban Development; Agriculture, Rural Development, and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as agencies under those larger umbrellas.

That could be the first of a handful of “minibus” bills the Senate pushes in the next few weeks, Sen. Jon Tester told Politico on Tuesday. If the Senate shows a united front on passing these funding bills, it would significantly increase pressure on McCarthy to pass a stopgap funding bill and avoid a government shutdown. That’s not a sure thing: The Senate is famously slow when it comes to legislating. To get these bills considered quickly, they’ll have to be advanced by unanimous consent. That avoids the lengthy process of cloture votes and hours of debate time. Any single senator—like the infamously obstructionist Republican Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, for example—could derail that with a simple objection.

So far, however, there hasn’t been much in the way of government-shutdown cheerleading from the usual subjects in the Republican Senate conference. In fact, as Murray and Collins noted in their announcement that “we worked with our colleagues in a bipartisan way to draft and pass out of Committee all twelve appropriations bills for the first time in years—and did so with overwhelming bipartisan votes.” There appears to be little appetite among Senate Republicans for picking this particular fight.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is intent on keeping the conference united on this one. Last week, he reiterated that the Republicans in the Senate were not going to emulate the House and renege on the budget deal that McCarthy struck with President Joe Biden earlier this year to resolve the debt-ceiling standoff. “The House then turned around and passed spending levels that were below that level,” McConnell said. “Without stating an opinion about that, that’s not going to be replicated in the Senate.”

McConnell has also set down a marker on continuing funding for Ukraine, another factor in a potential deal to avert a shutdown. The administration’s request for supplemental funding to Ukraine will likely be attached to a short-term funding bill, as would its request for emergency disaster relief. Funding for disaster relief should be a no-brainer for Republicans politically, as well as a top priority. Tying it to Ukraine assistance and keeping the government open should keep a healthy majority on board.

McConnell is doing his bit to keep up the drum beat. He has spent the last two days hammering on the need to keep funding flowing to Ukraine. “It is certainly not the time to go wobbly,” he said in a floor speech Wednesday. “It is not the time to ease up."

McConnell from Senate floor on more Ukraine aid:“Helping Ukraine retake its territory means weakening 1 of America’s biggest strategic adversaries w/o firing a shot & deterring another one in the process. It means investing directly in American strength,both military & economic." pic.twitter.com/7Z19j3HORs

— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) September 6, 2023

The stakes are high for McConnell. He wants Republicans to regain the majority in 2024, and avoiding a government shutdown is vital to that goal. He’s walking the usual tightrope between keeping the increasingly MAGA-like base happy, while not giving Democrats any additional fodder to hammer Republican opponents.

That’s nothing compared with what McCarthy faces, however. For him, the outcome is more politically existential: whether he keeps his speakership. He’s getting pressure from his supposed ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who won’t vote for any government funding, or support for Ukraine, or really anything until she gets an impeachment inquiry, as she recently detailed in a long, unhinged tweet thread.

McCarthy’s more vocal adversaries are taking direct aim at his speakership. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz threatened a challenge in a tweet Tuesday, writing, “We’ve got to seize the initiative. That means forcing votes on impeachment. And if @SpeakerMcCarthy stands in our way, he may not have the job long. Let’s hope he works with us, not against us.”

Texas Rep. Chip Roy, a Freedom Caucus leader, has piled on with a series of tweets, retweets, and replies firing up the MAGA base for a shutdown. That includes retweeting a post exclaiming, “Chip for Speaker!!!”

That’s a direct message to McCarthy that either of them—or anyone else in the extremist bunch—would be willing to use the tool they extorted from him in his leadership bid in January: the motion to vacate the chair. That allows any single one of them to bring the equivalent of a no-confidence vote to the floor at any time. It’s not the first time Roy has made this veiled threat.

This is the biggest test for McCarthy’s ability to lead, one that everyone paying attention knew would happen if he didn’t stand up to the extremists at some point. He scraped by in the first test on the debt ceiling by striking a deal with Biden—the deal which the extremists forced him to renege on. He’s facing a choice again: Will he stick with the Trump MAGA minority, or try to protect his slim majority—particularly the “Biden 18,” the freshmen Republicans holding districts Biden won in 2020?

It’s also, of course, a test for those supposed moderates, one they’ve failed before. They have the power to block the minority of extremists, if they’re willing to use it.

Sign and send the petition: Pass a clean funding bill. No GOP hostage taking.

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McCarthy caves to rebels for temporary truce

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It’s the Ukraine Update episode! Kerry interviews Markos to talk about what is happening in Ukraine, what needs to be done, and why the fate of Ukraine is tied to democracy’s fate in 2024.

House Republican extremists look like they want a government shutdown

We are in September now, which means the government-shutdown stopwatch is ticking. This congressional calendar is even more fraught than usual because there’s just so much that Congress needs to do—and yet, House Republican extremists remain intent on creating chaos. Making matters worse, the House remains on vacation this week, and has scheduled only 12 legislative days before the fiscal year ends and government funding expires on Oct. 1.

Government funding isn’t the only thing that’s supposed to be accomplished in the next three weeks. The end of September is also the deadline for the high-stakes farm bill and a reauthorization bill—the legislation that governs how funds are supposed to be spent by agencies—for the Federal Aviation Administration. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is running out of money and needs a cash infusion to keep responding to the recent disasters in Hawaii and Florida, much less what the remainder of hurricane and wildfire season may bring.

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A few weeks ago, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy floated a possible deal with Democrats to pass a short-term funding bill to keep the government running while Congress continues to work on the regular appropriations bills. At least one hard-line Republican, Georgia’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, has declared she won’t vote for it unless the House first votes to begin impeaching President Joe Biden.

Rep. Chip Roy of Texas is joining in, not necessarily on impeaching Biden as a condition of funding the government, but more so in opposition to having a functioning government. On Monday, Texas Sen. John Cornyn tweeted about the impending shutdown, obliquely chastising the House Republicans for being “universes” apart from Senate Republicans on funding government. Roy quickly responded by saying that Republicans shouldn’t fund “the things they campaign against - and then just shrug… border… DOJ weaponization… DOD wokeness… IRS abuse… COVID tyranny.”

That’s left McCarthy weakly arguing that if they shut down the government, then they won’t be able to keep investigating Biden. “If we shut down, all of government shuts down — investigation and everything else. It hurts the American public,” he said.

The White House has asked for a short-term continuing resolution, which is the only viable solution at this point to keep the government open. The Senate—Democrats and many Republicans—are on board. So now it all boils down to whether McCarthy will finally buck Republican extremists and work with Democrats on a stopgap bill to extend current levels of funding and likely add additional funding for disaster relief and Ukraine support.

The far-right justices on Wisconsin's Supreme Court just can't handle the fact that liberals now have the majority for the first time in 15 years, so they're in the throes of an ongoing meltdown—and their tears are delicious. On this week's episode of "The Downballot," co-hosts David Nir and David Beard drink up all the schadenfreude they can handle as they puncture conservative claims that their progressive colleagues are "partisan hacks" (try looking in the mirror) or are breaking the law (try reading the state constitution). Elections do indeed have consequences!

Trump Announces Plan to Slash Government Spending and ‘Starve the Warmongers’

The Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has announced his plan to slash government waste, eliminate the influence of the deep state, and cut the spending power of “warmongers.”

Trump’s plan is to restore executive branch impoundment, something he describes as “a crucial tool” in the battle to cut waste.

Impoundment is a now-limited presidential power that would require legal measures to revert back to the President. Congress enacted the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which transferred most spending control to the House and Senate.

Trump wants to fight it.

“For 200 years under our system of government, it was undisputed that the President had the Constitutional power to stop unnecessary spending through what is known as Impoundment,” he explained.

“This meant that if Congress provided more funding than was needed to run the government, the President could refuse to waste the extra funds, and instead return the money to the general treasury and maybe even lower your taxes,” he continued.

RELATED: Trump Reveals Exactly Why the Deep State is Desperate to Stop Him

Trump Will Use Impoundment To Slash Waste, Starve The Warmongers

Trump’s entire plan is predicated on the idea that he’ll convince Congress to overturn a Budget and Impoundment Act that has been in effect for nearly 50 years. An Act that gives spending control to Congress.

In other words, he wants Congress to willingly turn over control of the nation’s purse strings. It’s not going to happen, but that hasn’t sullied Trump’s optimism.

“This disaster of a law is clearly unconstitutional—a blatant violation of the separation of powers,” he said.

“When I return to the White House, I will do everything I can to challenge the Impoundment Control Act in court, and if necessary, get Congress to overturn it,” added Trump. “We will overturn it.”

On the off chance that he’s successful in that regard, Trump’s goals for using impoundment sound excellent.

“I will use the president’s long-recognized Impoundment Power to squeeze the bloated federal bureaucracy for massive savings. This will be in the form of tax reductions for you,” the GOP candidate explained. “This will help quickly to stop inflation and slash the deficit.”

Yes, please.

The plan also seeks to cut power to the “globalists,” the “deep state,” and those pushing the country into endless wars.

“Bringing back impoundment will give us a crucial tool with which to obliterate the Deep State, Drain the Swamp, and starve the Warmongers,” Trump said. “We are going to get the Warmongers and the Globalists out of our government.”

RELATED: Trump Reveals Plan to Drain the Swamp: Require All Government Employees Pass Civil Service Test to Prove Understanding of the Constitution

Draining The Swamp

Trump previously announced a plan to drain the swamp and take on the entrenched federal bureaucracy. That plan includes requiring all federal employees to pass a Civil Service test to prove their understanding of the United States Constitution.

“I will require every federal employee to pass a new Civil Service test demonstrating an understanding of our Constitutional limited government,” he announced in April.

“This will include command of due process rights, equal protection, Free Speech, religious liberty, federalism, the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure … and all the other constitutional limits on federal power,” he continued.

But it just might be his “starve the warmongers” comment that results in the most resistance.

Trump blamed “deep state actors” for his consistent legal issues several months ago and hinted it was due to his push for peace in Ukraine.

“It’s no coincidence that the deep state is coming after me even harder since I pledged to swiftly end the war in Ukraine,” he pondered.

Since then he has been indicted twice.

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GOP unrest: Conservatives threaten to tank party’s 2024 spending bills

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is seeking to appease his conservative agitators by targeting next year’s federal spending at last year’s levels.

It’s not going well. 

A long list of conservatives left Washington this week accusing McCarthy and other GOP leaders of using budgetary “gimmicks” to create the false impression that they’re cutting 2024 outlays back to 2022 levels, rather than adopting the fundamental budget changes to realize those reductions and rein in deficit spending over the long haul.

The hard-liners are already threatening to oppose their own party’s spending bills when they hit the House floor later this year, undermining the Republicans’ leverage in the looming budget fight while heightening the chances of a government shutdown. 


More House coverage from The Hill


The internal clash would also be an enormous headache for the Speaker, who’s already under fire from conservatives for his handling of the debt ceiling debate and faces intense pressure to hold the line on spending in the coming battle over government funding.

“He's not doing ‘22 spending levels; he’s talking ‘22 spending levels,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), former head of the far-right Freedom Caucus, said Thursday. “Talk is cheap.”

Biggs and a number of other conservatives fear that GOP appropriators intend to use a budgetary tool known as a rescission in the drafting of their 2024 spending bills. Rescissions essentially claw back spending that Congress has already appropriated for future programs, allowing appropriators to claim they're funding the government at one level while actually spending at another. The hard-liners say that mechanism will lead to higher deficits than they're ready to support. 

“The idea of saying that we’re marking to 2022, but we're going to buy up to 2023 marks with rescissions, just — to me that's disingenuous,” Biggs said. 

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) speaks to reporters before a press conference held by the House Freedom Caucus regarding the proposed Biden-McCarthy debt limit deal on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), another Freedom Caucus member, agreed. 

“My understanding is they're going to use ‘23 numbers, and then through rescissions, get back to ‘22 numbers. So if they don't get the rescission, then they don’t get the ‘22 number,” Buck said. “The whole predicate is, ‘We're going to do this with rescissions,’ and then the rescissions don't happen, and then everyone says, ‘Well, that wasn't my fault.’”

Buck said he hasn’t voted for any appropriations bill “in a long time.” And without more drastic cuts and fundamental structural changes, he’ll likely oppose this year’s bills, too. 

“To go off the cliff at the ‘22 pace is not much different to me than going off the cliff at the ‘23 pace,” he said.

The opposition is significant because Democrats are already up in arms that McCarthy is targeting 2024 spending figures below the caps he negotiated with President Biden in this month's debt ceiling agreement. They’re vowing to oppose any appropriations bills that fall below those figures — leaving McCarthy with little room for GOP defections given the Republicans' slim House majority. 

“It's our view that a resolution was reached, and was voted on in a bipartisan way, and at the end of the day, any spending agreement that is arrived at by the end of the year has to be consistent with the resolution of the default crisis,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters Thursday in the Capitol. 

“Otherwise, what was it all for?”

The issue of government spending has been at the center of the battle this year between McCarthy and the hard-line conservatives, who had sought in January to win a promise from the Speaker to cut 2024 spending down to 2022 levels — a reduction of roughly $130 billion from current spending. The conservatives were furious that, as part of this month’s debt ceiling deal between McCarthy and Biden, next year’s spending came in above that figure, essentially frozen at 2023 levels with a 1 percent increase slated for 2025. 

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McCarthy has responded by claiming the topline figure he negotiated with Biden was merely a ceiling, not an objective. He’s instructed appropriators to target 2024 funding below that cap, and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, announced this week that she’ll do just that. 

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act set a topline spending cap – a ceiling, not a floor – for Fiscal Year 2024 bills,” Granger said in a statement Monday. “That is why I will use this opportunity to mark-up appropriations bills that limit new spending to the Fiscal Year 2022 topline level.”

Yet the conservatives are far from convinced. 

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) hailed Granger for putting out the statement. “But what I'm hearing,” he quickly added, “is that the intention is to claim 2022 [levels], and then utilize rescissions to take it back up to 2023, and claim that's some kind of a victory.” 

“We need true 2022 levels, and then we ought to be utilizing targeted cuts and rescissions to go beneath that, not pretend 2022 levels plussed-up with rescissions,” he said.

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.)

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) speaks to reporters as he heads to the House Chamber for a series of votes on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. (Greg Nash)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) delivered a similar warning this week, saying the key issue is “the paradigm around what constitutes 2022 spending levels.”

“We don't think you oughta be able to buy your way into those spending levels with rescissions. We think that you ought to appropriate to that level. Because if you're only able to get to the 2022 levels with rescissions, then the budgetary process is void of the programmatic reforms that are necessary,” Gaetz said. 

“My concern with [Granger's] statement is that it seems still that 2022 levels are a term of art, rather than a term of math,” he continued. “I'm worried that Chair Granger's statement reflects a willingness to only get to 2022 spending levels through rescissions, which is not going to be palatable for my crew.”

Neither Granger’s office nor McCarthy’s responded to requests for comment Thursday.

The conservative criticisms have raised new questions about McCarthy’s ability to keep the confidence of his restive conference while cutting deals with Democrats to fund the government and prevent a shutdown. The Speaker has said the hard-liners are being unrealistic about governing in a divided Washington — but his arguments have failed to make those conservatives back down. 

“Nobody wants a shutdown,” Gaetz said. “But we’re not gonna vote for budgetary gimmicks and deception as a strategy for funding the government.”

Mychael Schnell contributed. 

House passes debt ceiling deal

UPDATE: Thursday, Jun 1, 2023 · 1:34:30 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Yep. They hate it. 

Biggs is not happy that debt deal passed with more Democrats than Republicans "We were told they'd never put a bill on the floor that would take more Democrats than Rs to pass. We were told that."

— Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) June 1, 2023

UPDATE: Thursday, Jun 1, 2023 · 1:26:52 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

The deal passed easily, 314 to 177, with more Democratic than Republican votes. The best thing about a vote that big is that it will make Mike Lee and Rand Paul look more ridiculous when they try to hold it up in the Senate. Also that McCarthy owes so much to the Democrats. The Freedom Caucus guys are going to HATE that,

UPDATE: Thursday, Jun 1, 2023 · 12:39:59 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Ugh. Yeah, they’re still yammering. 

Mike Lee is on the House floor, huddling with Andy Biggs and Chip Roy

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) June 1, 2023

UPDATE: Wednesday, May 31, 2023 · 10:12:12 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

The closed rule—no amendments allowed, passed pretty easily 241-187. There were 52 Democratic yes votes, and 29 Republican noes. There might not be as many Dems in support when it comes to final passage, and they’ll probably hold out, letting Republicans go first and then determining how many of them will be needed to help pass it. The House is scheduled to pick up again at 7:15 PM, ET to proceed to final passage.

The debt ceiling/budget bill worked out between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will hit the House floor Wednesday afternoon, in a massive blow to the Freedom Caucus maniacs who have been rooting for the nation to default on its debt and for economic catastrophe. Their short rebellion fizzled, and McCarthy may get at least 150 Republican votes on the plan.

The major part of the drama was over once Rep. Tom Massie, a Kentucky Republican, said he would vote the bill out of the Rules Committee. Freedom Caucus Reps. Chip Roy of Texas, and Ralph Norman of South Carolina couldn’t convince him to play spoiler, despite histrionics from Roy throughout the day and his dire warning that “The Republican conference has been torn asunder.”

SIGN: End the Debt Limit game of blackmail. Pass real reform.

What has been torn asunder is the control the Freedom Caucus thought they had over McCarthy. That was clear once members of the group started downplaying their one big card: the motion to vacate the chair. It takes only one member to start the ball rolling on ousting McCarthy from the speakership, and it became clear quickly that there was little appetite among the rebels to even try. Even “firebrand” Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene will likely vote for the bill in the end.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene likens raising the debt ceiling to a “shit sandwich” but is a lean yes. “I'm a dessert girl. Everyone loves dessert and that's impeachment, someone needs to be impeached,” she adds.

— Juliegrace Brufke (@juliegraceb) May 30, 2023

The deal pretty effectively neuters the Freedom Caucus and limits the damage House Republicans can do between now and Jan. 1, 2025. They can’t take the debt ceiling hostage again in the next year and a half, and they can’t shut down the government by refusing to complete spending bills without doing serious political damage to themselves.

From a progressive perspective, the bill isn’t great, and most in the Progressive Caucus probably won’t support it. They don’t have to. There will be enough Republican votes and votes from other Democrats to pass the bill. From a political and economic stability perspective, the bill is fantastic. It averts economic catastrophe and neutralizes the Freedom Caucus in one go. In other words, Biden wins in a big way.

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We have Rural Organizing’s Aftyn Behn. Markos and Aftyn talk about what has been happening in rural communities across the country and progressives’ efforts to engage those voters. Behn also gives the podcast a breakdown of which issues will make the difference in the coming elections.

Newt Gingrich Predicts Democrats Will Throw Away Congress ‘Once Again’ With ‘Radical’ Budget Agenda

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke out on Friday to predict that Democrats will throw away their control of Congress with a “radical” budget agenda.

He said this on Fox News after they passed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package.

Gingrich Comments On Democrats

Gingrich said that Democrats “have clearly decided” that they will “go for broke on a radical agenda,” adding that this “almost certainly guarantees” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will take over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) role.

“[L]et me start and point out this is the third time they’ve done this,” Gingrich said. “Bill Clinton passed a huge tax increase with no Republicans, and in 1994, they lost 54 seats in the House. Pelosi and others rammed through bills with no Republicans, and in 2010, they lost 63 seats in the House.”

“What the Democrats have now clearly decided is that they are going to go for broke on a radical agenda,” he added.

“They’re going to do everything they can without any Republicans, and that means that they are going to own everything in the election of 2022, and [that] almost certainly guarantees that Kevin McCarthy is the next Speaker and that the Democrats will, in fact once again for the third time have thrown away control of the Congress,” Gingrich said.

Related: Gingrich: Pelosi Impeachment Push Is Because She’s Scared Trump Might Run Again – And Win

Gingrich Says Pelosi Is ‘Hysterical’

Later in this interview, Gingrich said that Pelosi is “hysterical” because she is losing a grip on her speakership.

“That five-vote margin is going to break down sometime this spring as members start to say, ‘Hey, I can’t go back home if I keep voting like a radical.’ And at that point, McCarthy will be the functional leader of the House,” he claimed.

This comes weeks after Gingrich blasted Pelosi as the “most destructive Speaker in history.”

“First off, she keeps violating the Constitution,” Gingrich said of Pelosi. “The latest impeachment is just a simple example.”

“She uses her power ruthlessly and she has really pushed through the most radical positions ever taken by an American Speaker, including abolishing mother and father and uncle and aunt and son and daughter as words, literally trying to strip out any gender reference from the House of Representatives,” he added. “I think she’s very dangerous.”

Read Next: Newt Gingrich Eviscerates Pelosi – ‘Most Destructive Speaker In History’

This piece was written by James Samson on February 6, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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