September 27, 2015

house freedom caucus; a recipe for GOP dysfunction?

Brother JG notes:

The whole thing is moot, is it not, unless Senate Majority Leader McConnell changes the filibuster rule the same way as his predecessor, Senate Majority Leader Reid.

I would agree that the Iran deal would seem the time and place to go with this, but note that so far even Dingy Harry only sought to circumvent filibuster for judicial nominees. Invoking it for legislation would, in many ways, dramatically change the Senate in many ways, likely permanently. This should be daunting to any leader. A more incremental approach is (and has been) proposed along several lines, yet perhaps doomed by this interesting issue.

Tom McClintock announced Wednesday he was resigning from the House Freedom Caucus, saying the group’s hardball tactics had undermined conservative goals rather than advancing them

He provides specific examples in his resignation letter to Jim Jordan. who leads HFC:

House Republicans attempted to pass a three-week stop gap bill so we could avoid a catastrophic shutdown of our security agencies while continuing to bring public opinion to bear to de-fund the ["amnesty"] orders. At the behest of its board, most HFC members combined with House Democrats to defeat this effort, resulting in the full funding of these illegal orders for the fiscal year.

Last week, the House was scheduled to adopt the Resolution of Disapproval of the disastrous Iran nuclear agreement – the only legally binding action available to Congress under the Corker Act. Once again, the House Freedom Caucus leadership threatened to combine with House Democrats to defeat the Resolution, forcing the House leadership to abandon it in favor of a symbolic and legally meaningless vote.

For several months, Harry Reid and Senate Democrats have threatened to shut down the government on October 1st unless Congress unleashes another unsustainable cycle of tax increases and borrowing. Last week, the House Freedom Caucus formally vowed to shut down the government over funding Planned Parenthood.
A common theme through each of these incidents is a willingness – indeed, an eagerness – to strip the House Republican majority of its ability to set the House agenda by combining with House Democrats on procedural motions. As a result, it has thwarted vital conservative policy objectives and unwittingly become Nancy Pelosi’s tactical ally.

So, what has been perceived - certainly by me! - as lack of backbone and/or initiative in the GOP, could be a result of this group blocking many a common sense, procedural-based approach to stopping the Obama train. Why? I would like to know.

Example of common sense approach (from Prof. Steven Hayward):

12 separate appropriation bills for the major government departments, as Congress is supposed to do under the modern budget process. If Congress were doing its job properly, they could threaten to shut down just the Department of Health and Human Services, and/or they could attach Planned Parenthood defunding to all 12 appropriation bills and make Obama issue 12 vetoes ... That would transform the politics of any shutdown radically.

So, we've got Jordan and Mark Meadows [wingnut?, NC]; who are the other eight, and WHAT DO THEY WANT besides defunding PP? I can only guess it's about power. Are they Tea Party-driven or "social issues conservatives"? Still, as Dr. Hayward notes above,

the real failure of GOP leadership in both houses—is that we’re once again looking at passing yet another omnibus continuing resolution

So, HFC could be demanding some sort of idealogical purity, or perhaps just trying to move leadership away from what I've see as a surfeit of what "Beltway Syndrome" aka, we insiders will do as we (incumbents, all) and our lobbyists deem necessary.

I'm puzzled by the backroom deals, and not unhappy to see Boehner leave, but would like to know what's going on: I certainly know that the word "conservative" only meaning when published in the MSM is "them." To me, it means mostly the limited gov't, "Liberty" agenda; is that only me? Certainly Boehner's 1st Lieutenant, Eric Cantor, was defeated (deservedly so, from what I could tell) with Tea Party support as being way too steeped in the ways of Beltway Syndrome.

I'm hoping this is the start of a Gladstonian revolt, and not one leading to a Handmaid's Tale...


114th Congress Donkey Rescue GOP Planks Posted by nanobrewer at September 27, 2015 1:16 AM

538 blog has an article on HFC, not answering my questions, but nods at the Gladstone approach, noting

The Freedom Caucus members aren’t homogenous demographically, politically or in their attitude toward Boehner.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/the-hard-line-republicans-who-pushed-john-boehner-out/

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 27, 2015 2:33 AM

Very interesting stuff, thanks.

I've been Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell's biggest defenders here (or anywhere else, as near as I can tell). I am willing to admit somebody else could do better, but I watch too much Jon Caldara and his Rule #1, Republicans will mess everything up, will likely unfold here.

Somebody else could be better but will get somebody better? It's not going to be Justin Amash (HOSS MI) or Trey Gowdy (HOSS SC); they don't have the votes and I doubt they have the temperament. And, while I don't want the Tea Party shut out of power, I'm not sure I want them driving the train either. We might miss our internal gridlock, mark my words.

And I strongly oppose any efforts to damage the filibuster. It's our final remaining protection from Democracy. The knowledge that "our guys" would have it a couple years is not worth discarding republican government.

Posted by: jk at September 27, 2015 11:16 AM

Initially worried by the depiction of the HFC (not by the MSM - they will always be shouting "fight! fight! fight!") but from McClintock's letter.

Still, the we can't work with this dude does make sense now that I pause to remember too, too many stories of Boehner being downright nasty to what seemed to be as basic conservative causes (Hugh Hewitt was also a defender, yet could only come up with "Why?"), and quite vindictive to some of the young bucks. I clearly remember him being ... just ugly when trying to force a vote on immigration reform [comprehensive, of course!]

I've forgotten how many times in the last 12 months, even a centrist GOP like Hugh would say things like 'why hand the opposition this ammunition?'

Here's an example of him being the man that doesn't get it, on Face the Nation.

Our founders didn’t want some parliamentary system where if you won the majority, you got to do whatever you wanted. They wanted this long, slow process. And so change comes slowly. Obviously too slowly for some.

Seems oblivious to it's Obama who's been ushering change in avalanche by executive order, in disregard of the founders system. He apparently believes that it’s members of his caucus who are at odds with the founders’ vision.

Or, he's just saying what he thinks needs to be heard to stay on the cocktail circuit and be in line for the next juicy lobbyist post. Time may tell. Good riddance, and here's hoping anew, that next is better!

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 28, 2015 12:13 AM

The "him" I refer to in the Face The Nation appearance was Boehner, not Hewitt.

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 28, 2015 2:00 PM

I'm on record as a defender of republicanism, however, the Republican party shows no sign of doing anything to prevent Democrats from eschewing the filibuster again, or for broader purposes.

Hayward's department by department budget idea is a good one. One can only wonder why the previous leadership passed omnibus spending bills for the last 6 years. Hardly the doing of the House Freedom Caucus.

Posted by: johngalt at September 28, 2015 3:14 PM

@JG: Heh, pick your whinge: [then] We need the Senate! [now] We need the presidency! [soon] We need veto-proof majority!

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 28, 2015 5:54 PM | What do you think? [6]