House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan is furious that yet another bloated bill to keep the government running was approved on Capitol Hill this week and he fears it will only set the stage for an even greater spending binge come December.
Rep. Jordan, R-Ohio, says this move was designed by party leaders to avoid a government shutdown that would surely be blamed on Republicans, even though he says it’s really the Democrats that gummed up the appropriations process.
“It’s not good for the country and not good for the taxpayer,” said Jordan.
The legislation, known as a continuing resolution, easily passed the U.S. Senate 72-26 on Wednesday, followed by a similarly lopsided 342-85 margin in the House. It keeps federal funding at existing levels but also includes special funding for Zika response, aid for flood victims in Louisiana and other projects.
Jordan says he voted against the bill for multiple reasons, including Congress failing to follow regular order and approve 13 individual spending bills rather than one giant bill that only the leadership of both parties in the House and Senate got to craft.
He also says it ignores our nation’s balance sheet once again.
“I think when you’ve got a $20 trillion debt, you’ve got to try to get a handle on the spending. Here we are increasing it at a time when the deficit went up this year. Really? We’re just going to go ahead and spend at that level. [The House Freedom Caucus] felt that didn’t make sense and that’s why we were against the earlier budget proposal in the Spring of this year as well,” said Jordan.
While Jordan is frustrated that spending levels negotiated by President Obama and former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, are still in place, he says Democrats are very effective at forcing the GOP’s hand.
“Primarily, it’s not happening because in the Senate, Harry Reid won’t let the individual bills come up for a vote. That’s the way it’s supposed to work,” said Jordan. “He’s been able to win every fight by saying, ‘Look, I’m going to hold up defense spending until you give me the spending I want on domestic issues.”
“What that means is taxpayers get the short end. I think, frankly, our military gets the short end of that deal too and it’s just not good for the country,” said Jordan.
Jordan says Republicans would be in a position to cut spending without Reid’s parliamentary games.
“If we could get our troops funded and our military funded at the right level and get that bill taken care of early, then I think we could go after some of the ridiculous spending and some of the ridiculous regulations within the federal government,” said Jordan.
He says Republicans always end up giving in as government shutdowns loom because the party refuses to frame the debate in a way that would be a winner for them in the court of public opinion. Jordan says the party needs to fight.
Last year, he says the battle should have been waged over Planned Parenthood funding in the wake of videos explaining how the nation’s largest abortion provider alters their methods of killing unborn babies in order to preserve organs for which researchers pay the most money. This year, Jordan thinks the battle should have been pitched over tightening up the vetting of Middle East refugees.
Incidentally, Planned Parenthood funding may soon be increasing due to the provisions associated with the Zika funding.
So why did 70 percent of House Republicans vote for the continuing resolution? Jordan says there are multiple reasons, but the political calendar is the most likely explanation.
“Some are okay with the spending levels and everything else, but for some I think it was also a concern about a shutdown scenario here five weeks before a presidential election,” said Jordan.
The government is now funded until December 9. Jordan says that debate will look even uglier as a lame duck session cobbles together funding through September 2017.
“We’re kicking a big spending measure into a lame duck session; a lame duck session when a number of members will no longer be accountable to the voters. The voters will just have spoken, just picked a Congress for the upcoming year. Yet, they’re going to be going back and dealing with billions of dollars of spending,” said Jordan.
Jordan says that never turns out well for taxpayers.
“In the last five years, we have seen what happens in lame duck sessions. We’ve seen what happens right before the holidays. You get tax increases. You get omnibus, cromnibus, big spending measures. It never works out good for the taxpayers and families of this country in my judgment,” said Jordan.
The congressman says this is yet another aspect of the system that drives voters crazy, as Washington operates under a different set of rules than most hardworking Americans.
“There are two standards. One for ‘We the People’ and a different one for the politically connected. One for us regular folks and another if your name is Lois Lerner, John Koskinen or Hillary Clinton,” said Jordan referring to IRS officials neck-deep in the scandal of the government harassing conservative groups and individuals.
And just this week, lawmakers, including Jordan, grilled FBI Director Jim Comey over multiple immunity offers and no prosecutions in the investigation of Clinton’s handling of classified information and her use of a private server.
Jordan says the public is incensed, even if the Justice Department is not.
“That’s why you see such strong appeal for Donald Trump, particularly in our state of Ohio. It’s because they know he’s going to come in and shake up the system, which needs to happen,” said Jordan.