Friday, February 7th, 2014 and is filed under Foreign Policy
The media is constantly bemoaning the lack of bipartisanship in Congress, with the lion’s share of their scorn directed at conservatives for being too “intransigent.” Well, almost the entire Senate GOP Conference – both moderate and conservative members – actually united behind a Democrat-sponsored bill to implement sanctions on Iran. Yet, the Democrats and their allies are spoiling this superlative opportunity to work together on a goal that is supposedly shared by both parties.
Last November, President Obama forged a deal with Iran that should be called the “if you like your nukes you can keep them” deal. As part of the Geneva agreement, Iran is not required to destroy a single centrifuge it has already produced, but is required to end any future development of nuclear operations. Even with the future promises to curtail their nuclear program, the Iranians probably have enough material already to create a bomb. They are just working on a warhead and delivery capabilities, which are not curtailed by the Geneva deal. Moreover, there is no requirement that Iran suspend their global terror operations, which in many ways are more dangerous than their nuclear program.
In return for their trustworthy promises to reduce their nuclear program, Obama agreed to suspend sanctions against them for six months. But fear not, if they don’t uphold their side of the deal, Russia and China, which have permanent veto power over any sanctions, have agreed to re-impose the international sanctions on a rogue Iran.
In response to this outrage, a group of senators from both parties introduced a bill to re-impose sanctions on Iran (S.1881). The bill was sponsored by Democrat Senator Robert Menendez. Almost every Republican along with 16 Democrats co-sponsored the bill. What a great opportunity to bring a bipartisan bill to the floor, no?
As we all know, the Democrats had no intention of ever holding a vote on the bill. They just wanted to show their constituents that they are just as strong on national security as Republicans, but never wanted to bring the bill to the floor, lest they embarrass the messiah and leader of their party.
After refusing to hold a vote, a group of 42 Republicans sent a letter to Harry Reid asking for an up-or-down vote on this bill, which supposedly is supported by many Democrats. The only Republican who didn’t join in is RINO Bob Corker. Needless to say, not a single Democrat signed the letter. Then, AIPAC parachutes in and defends Obama while voicing opposition to the GOP effort to push for a floor vote on sanctions.
In recent years, AIPAC has been more concerned with giving cover to Obama and the Democrats then with national security or authentic pro-Israel policies. AIPAC’s hypocritical and politically-motivated move was so bizarre that The Hill had to verify that their statement was true. The Hill reporter was clearly unaware of their history of shielding Democrats in an effort to obfuscate the political divide over Israel.
So, the next time you hear a Democrat complain about too much partisanship in Washington, tell them to look in the mirror.
Cross-posted at RedState.com
Monday, January 20th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, News
On Friday, we all learned the sad news that Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) will be resigning from the U.S. Senate next year as he fights his battle against cancer. Coburn has valiantly fought waste in the federal bureaucracy and he will, God willing, fight off this wretched disease.
The impending vacancy in Oklahoma has triggered a special Senate election for this year, with the primary to take place on June 24, 2014. Over the weekend, several expected candidates, including Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), announced they will not vie for the seat, while Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) plans to officially declare his intentions to run later today. We are safe to assume the GOP establishment wants a united front. And if Lankford becomes their anointed candidate, in what is perhaps the most conservative state in the country, color us underwhelmed.
To be clear, Lankford is not a purely liberal Republican and an anathema to Oklahoma like Rep. Tom Cole would have been, had he contested the seat. And in a perfect world – one without a truculent Democrat Party and a treacherous GOP party establishment – Lankford would go with the flow and drift in the proper direction. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Our country, culture, marketplace, and system of government are on fire. If we don’t aggressively reverse the tide of Obama’s 100-year culmination of the progressive utopia, our slide into socialism and moral decay will be immutable. The only way to reverse this trend is to drive straight through the obstructionist bodies of the GOP establishment and the special interest ruling class. Politicians who support the status quo in the way we approach politics and policy are not up for the task.
Rep. Lankford is a quintessential status quo Republican. After just two years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Lankford was groomed for a leadership position, serving as the number six-ranking member in the Boehner-Cantor team. Nobody gets into leadership that quickly if they are bent on fighting the power structure in Washington. He has since served as a conduit for Boehner and Cantor, supporting their debt ceiling increases and funding for Obamacare in budget bills, thereby obviating one of the reasons for Republicans controlling the U.S. House.
Given that Lankford is from Oklahoma and has always had his eye on higher office, he tends to be more careful about his final votes than most other members of leadership. We noticed that Lankford voted for the Ryan-Murray budget deal in December, which busted the spending caps set by the Budget Control Act. Yet, he voted against the omnibus bill last week, even though that bill was directly born out of the December deal. Lankford cited a number of objections, but he knew exactly what the Ryan-Murray deal engendered. Moreover, he voted for the FY 2012 budget in December 2011, which contained similar objections. Clearly, he understood the optics of voting for this leviathan a week before announcing for the Senate seat would not bode well for his campaign.
Moreover, as we’ve noted before, immigration reform is likely to be the most important issue pending before Congress in the coming years. Lankford supports amnesty and is one of those Republicans who believes “doing nothing” (with regards to amnesty, not enforcement) is not an option. More disturbingly, he offered a typical liberal non-sequitur in support of amnesty: “I wouldn’t prohibit forever (people from getting citizenship). I’m a Christian, and restitution and reconciliation’s a big deal. If you do something illegal or inappropriate you should be able to resolve that, face the penalty, clear it and be forgiven.”
Lankford clearly doesn’t understand the broader consequences of our inane cycle of amnesty and will not be down for the struggle against Obama when he pushes it as a dangerous lame-duck president. When Obama issued his illegal administrative amnesty in 2012, all Lankford could muster was a feeble equivocation over whether it was even amnesty: “It is technically not amnesty, and it is amnesty. It’s both. That’s the frustrating part of it.” [CQ, GOP Avoids Taking a Position on New Immigration Enforcement Policy, 6/19/12]
Folks, we have enough of these consummate politicians in the U.S. Senate already. The Senate GOP Conference is even farther to the left than the House GOP. There is no way someone like Lankford will change the country club culture of Senate Republicans; we will be changed by them. Sending another mediocre Republican to the meat-grinder would be a waste of one of the most conservative seats.
Fortunately, Oklahoma is home to one of the most conservative game-changers in Congress. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), which the Madison Project endorsed last year for reelection, was a game-changer when he defeated the sponsor of the NatGas subsidy bill in a primary, he was a game changer when he voted against Boehner for Speaker, and he will be a game changer in the Senate when he stands up to weak-kneed leaders. Lankford is a yes-man for House leadership, and he will be a yes-man for Senate leadership.
We will never change Washington with the status quo.
Bridenstine has too much to offer Oklahoma in the Senate for him to sit this one out. We encourage him to jump in the race and give voice to conservatives.
Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Obamacare
One of the things we look for in our candidates is the ability to move beyond platitudes and articulate how limited government and free markets helps improve the lives of ordinary Americans. Career politicians like Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) might intuitively think Obamacare is a bad idea, but he has no ability to articulate free market healthcare policy from a position of strength. That’s because, at heart, Roberts is more of a politician than a conservative. Hence, he was easily sucked into the “go-along-to-get-along” mode and endorsed Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources in 2009.
Dr. Milton Wolf, who we were proud to endorse last month, is the panacea to inarticulate and inconsistent Republican politicians like Roberts. Yesterday, he unveiled his ideas for free market healthcare reform. Every Republicans should read this straightforward document, as it explains in plain English, from the perspective of a doctor, why even before Obamacare was implemented we languished under a centrally planned, market-distorted system. He then proceeds to explain how the lack of portability, government distortions of insurance, tendentious tax treatment of employer-based healthcare, and out-of-control tort system have hurt patients and doctors. Obamacare has only exacerbated all of these “pre-existing conditions.”
We are proud to put our name on smart conservative candidates like Milton Wolf. His articulate presentation of healthcare reform is exactly what we need in Washington. We need more than just a vote; we need a loud and unwavering voice to represent our values. Help us support Milton Wolf in Kansas and send a 21st century conservative to Washington. http://www.retireroberts.com/
Thursday, January 9th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Issues
Dr. Milton Wolf has never held public office, but he has already given voice to Kansas’s conservative values by forcing Senator Pat Roberts to change his voting habits. Ever since Wolf announced his candidacy, Roberts has clung to Ted Cruz and the conservative movement with all his might. Sadly, we’ve seen this bad movie before. Once the incumbent wins his primary and is reelected, he tends to relapse into his old ways of pushing for big government.
Help us support Milton Wolf in his historic bid to replace another ineffective Republican. RetireRoberts.com. Here is our latest video:
Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, News
It’s understandable why Democrats would feel embarrassed about unemployment. Employers are cutting jobs, reducing hours, and lowering wages as a direct result of the Obamacare mandates and taxes. Instead of putting out the fire that they set, Democrats have decided to distract our attention by offering band aids for the economic burns in the form of unprecedented long-term unemployment benefits.
Typically, the Unemployment Insurance program lasts for 26 weeks of unemployment with an additional 13 weeks during recessions. Most of the cost is purveyed by employer payroll taxes. Since 2008, however, Congress has funded Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits for up to 99 weeks of unemployment.
As part of the fiscal cliff deal, they extended benefits for up to 73 weeks. In total, extended unemployment benefits have been renewed 11 times since 2008. Over the past 5 years, the federal government has collected roughly $240 billion in federal unemployment payroll taxes, while paying out about $600 billion in benefits. We are already in uncharted waters and dangerously close to creating another permanent entitlement program.
Yesterday, the Senate voted for cloture on a bill that will extend the 73-week maximum UI extension for another three months. Although the recovery in the job market is historically slow and lethargic, it is improving. Why in the world would we push another extension post-recession? Moreover, although the job market is improving relative to the nadir of the recession, are a record number of people have given up looking for work. Now is the worst time to offer incentives for disgruntled unemployed to remain outside the labor force.
And if we don’t stop the endless counterintuitive cycle of UI benefits five years after the recession, unemployment will become another permanent entitlement.
Then again, that is exactly what the Democrats want. They obviously have no intention to end this charade in three months. They want UI to become permanently enshrined into the welfare state, but are aiming for perpetual short-term extensions in order to use the issue as a convenient life boat amidst the tumultuous political waters created by Obamacare.
Republicans have an opportunity to speak with moral clarity and show a bold contrast: the conservative plan of cutting government red tape on job creators vs. the Democrat plan of engendering job losses and then offering permanent dependency – subsidized by future generations of taxpayers – as a panacea for their man-made disaster.
Republican leaders should directly challenge Democrats on the premise of their stratagem. If they really believe in the prudence of indefinite UI extensions, why not make the extension permanent law? Why not raise the dollar amount of the benefits? Why not expand coverage to 100 weeks or for the entire duration for which any individual is unemployed?
Sadly, in yet another manifestation of the impervious Democrat super-majority, six Republican Senators gave Democrats the requisite votes to break the filibuster. Other Republicans are taking the pale-pastel route, suggesting they would play the UI game as long as the three month expenditure is “offset,” presumably, over 10 years.
A lack of unified opposition from Republicans is another example of the vacuum of leadership from the top. Leadership has failed to rally the conference against any Democrat legislation until Harry Reid restores the rules of the Senate. Indeed they are getting ready to pass a new 5-year farm bill next week. Nor have they unified opposition against the UI extension until and unless Democrats agree to pass a relief on the very regulations that cause joblessness, such as Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, and sundry EPA anti-energy restrictions.
As tens of millions of Americans begin receiving smaller paychecks due to the increase in withholdings for health insurance, joining the more than 5 million who already lost their coverage in the individual market, Democrats have an arduous task in shifting the public’s attention to unemployment benefits. But as Republicans equivocate and negotiate over their preposterous scheme, Democrats might succeed in deploying their latest political decoy.
Friday, December 20th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Issues
2013 has been a rough year for conservatives.
This year began with the passage of the $620 billion tax hike, along with $332 billion in stimulus spending. It ended with Republicans in both houses helping pass a bill that raises taxes, raises spending, makes it easier to raise taxes in the future, destroys our leverage for two years, screws disabled veterans, and paves the road for amnesty.
Worst of all, despite Harry Reid’s egregious assault on the filibuster, Republicans obsequiously gave him the votes for all of the end-of-year votes needed to adjourn for Christmas. Despite the fact that Harry Reid has completely shut down the amendment process Republicans were all too eager to give him 60 votes on every piece of legislation this month. Between the unified Democrat front and the lack of leadership among Senate Republicans, 2013 has turned out to be the year of the Democrat supermajority.
Republicans have helped Democrats pass tax increases, debt ceiling increases, funding for Obamacare, the unconstitutional Violence Against Women Act, an internet sales tax, amnesty, special rights for sundry sexual identities (ENDA), a massive farm bill, and some radical nominees.
In October, when House Republicans stood strong in the effort to defund Obamacare, Senate Republicans openly scoffed at them and joined with Senate Democrats to sabotage the fight.
Senate Republicans were so amiable to Harry Reid’s every whim that he decided to go for the kill at the end of the year. He pulled the nuclear option and abolished the filibuster on almost all presidential nominees. Republicans responded by working with him to pass the raw budget deal and the NDAA.
We thought the House was much better than the Senate, but amazingly, only 62 Republicans voted against a deal that was so easy to oppose.
In theory, one can accept the establishment’s argument about this year’s failures. With only control of the House of Representatives, we shouldn’t have high expectations. But if we win back more control in 2014 and 2016, things will change.
However, in order to accept that excuse one would have to buy into the lie that the schism within the party is only over strategy, not ideology. What lays waste to that notion is the inexplicable, yet inexorable, push for amnesty legislation on the part of the GOP establishment.
Along with Cantor’s vocal action on the Dream Act and Boehner’s hiring of a new pro-amnesty immigration staffer, we now have confirmation from Paul Ryan that the budget deal will indeed clear the lane for amnesty next year.
Let’s engage in a thought exercise for a moment – one which is predicated on the assumption that Republican leaders share our values but are merely hamstrung by control of just one branch of government. GOP leadership contends that we cannot block and tackle bad pieces of legislation and pernicious government programs with their current scope of power in Washington. Yet, somehow, we are to believe that Republicans can actively pass new immigration reform built upon conservative principles with Barack Obama in the White House?
To paraphrase Speaker Boehner, ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
Even if you are sympathetic to some form of amnesty under the right circumstances, if you had any shred of conservatism in your soul you would wait until we have someone in the White House who can be trusted to faithfully execute the law and not seek a political victory.
So why would Republicans push amnesty above every other priority? Why not work on something more unifying, such as repealing the ethanol mandate, an endeavor which has bipartisan support?
Sadly, it is quite evident that these people do not share our values. Immigration is just one issue, but it exposes the great establishment lie that the entire intra-party squabble revolves around strategy. It revolves around core values. Our core values are liberty, free markets, a strong civil society, strong national sovereignty, and following the Constitution as it was originally conceived. Their values are money and power. When the two competing ideals overlap, they will be happy to join us. But when those two goals clash, which they often do, they will give voice to the other side – either passively or vocally.
If we don’t rebuild the party from the bottom-up, no degree of electoral success during the 2014 and 2016 general elections will change our current trajectory.
Thursday, December 19th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Elections, News, Uncategorized
It’s not even 2014 and Mississippi conservative Senate candidate, Chris McDaniel, is already tied with incumbent Senator Thad Cochran in the polls. According to a new Human Events/Gravis poll, Cochran and McDaniel are all tied up at 40% apiece. It is pretty unprecedented for a challenger to be polling this well against a 35-year incumbent so early in the race.
The poll also showed that only 39% of Republicans definitively approved of Cochran. This poll is in line with previous surveys that show Chris to be very competitive. This is why we were so proud to endorse him early on in this race. Chris is truly an impressive candidate, and with voters itching for a more effective conservative voice in the Senate, he has a solid chance to become a U.S. Senator next year.
Thursday, December 19th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Elections
Americans in the heartland are starving for leadership in Washington. While they wait, President Obama and the Democrats are fundamentally transforming our Republic. Americans are desperately longing for passionate and spirited candidates to fight for conservative principles. They are looking for candidates who say exactly what We the People are thinking. They want bold, but articulate leaders. One of the best candidates to fill this vacuum is Dr. Milton Wolf running for U.S. Senate in Kansas.
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) has represented Kansas in the House and Senate for 33 years. Including his time as a congressional staffer, he has been in Washington since 1967. He has been a loyal public servant. But over the past few decades, he has unfortunately become the quintessential career politician, failing to thwart the unprecedented growth of government when it really counted. No degree of election-year foxhole conversions to voting conservative can compensate for the vacuum of a principled voice that has been missing in the U.S. Senate.
To rebuild the Senate majority with a new cadre of limited government, free-market, constitutional conservatives, we cannot reelect those who helped lose the majority during the Bush years through inconsistent principles. Roberts voted to keep the “Bridge to Nowhere” in 2006. He repeatedly opposed the earmark bans, even as many Republicans started realizing the harmful effects of earmarks. He supported No Child Left Behind, Medicare expansion, and the bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He has consistently voted against efforts to downsize the federal government and devolve power to the states.
Even more important than conservative votes, is a voice for Kansas’s conservative values. When Roberts’s voice was needed most, he was actually giving it to the other side. In 2009, President Obama nominated Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It was clear early on that Obama’s biggest priority was to take over the healthcare sector. As a home state senator and as a Kansan, Roberts had the opportunity to explain to the nation how he saw first-hand her radical views on healthcare and her support for partial birth abortion. Yet, not only did he vote for her, he gave her the home state endorsement and publicly foisted upon us the worst Secretary of HHS in American history.
Nobody can claim to be pro-life and sincerely opposed to Obamacare and at the same time support Kathleen Sebelius.
Even as Milton Wolf began considering a run for U.S. Senate, he was already a strong voice for Kansas. At the beginning of Obama’s presidency, Senator Roberts continued his old ways of go-along-to-get-along. He helped undermine our leverage points against Obama’s spending binge and Obamacare by voting to increase the debt ceiling and funding Obamacare in the budget. He voted for the $620 billion tax increases/$330 billion spending bill that Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) negotiated. But much like Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) did during his primary, Roberts lurched all the way to the right once Milton considered a Senate run.
Roberts began to vote against the debt ceiling and budget deals. He signed onto the Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) letter committing to defund Obamacare. He even broke from his tradition as a stealth senator to join Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on the U.S. Senate floor during his historic filibuster against Obamacare. After Milton Wolf called on him to give voice to Kansas against the egregious Ryan-Murray budget deal, he immediately announced his opposition.
He has moved so far to the right that some are even scoffing upon the effort to replace him.
However, conservatives are looking for a strong voice for all six years of a senator’s term, not just a pandering vote close to election time.
More importantly, even the foxhole conversion is a result of Milton’s bold and articulate voice in Kansas as a primary challenger. Just weeks before he signed the Mike Lee letter, Roberts expressed his skepticism of the strategy at a tele-townhall. He noted that “it’s a lot harder than it used to be but, my hand is still out there stretched out across the aisle.” At the same event on July 29, Roberts referred to the Fair Tax as a “scheme.” After Milton announced his candidacy, Roberts became a supporter. Most interesting, Roberts has called for Sebelius to resign. This is an unambiguous admission that his 2013 voting record is a form of pandering, not principled leadership.
Milton Wolf will provide the bold leadership we are all starving for. Far from being a career politician, Milton, who was born and raised in Lyons, Kansas, has spent his career trying to save cancer patients working as a diagnostic radiologist. Milton is continuing his full-time work in the hospital even as he campaigns statewide for Senate.
Dr. Wolf also happens to be Obama’s second cousin, and following the passage of Obamacare, Milton decided to speak out as a doctor, relative, conservative, and Kansan. He began speaking at Tea Parties and writing regular columns for national publications. He has a wealth of writings on an extensive list of policy issues, articulating conservatism from a position of strength. He is 100% with the conservative grassroots on every issue. Milton is also one of the most articulate and passionate candidates we have ever met.
After coming out publicly as Obama’s cousin, Milton was audited twice by the IRS. The White House also called his editor to try to get him fired.
Headed into the next few years, defeating Obamacare will be the most important goal. Who should lead the fight? A career politician who couldn’t even stand up to the architect of Obamacare or a doctor who is willing to stand up to his own family?
Dr. Wolf will work every day of his six-year term to give voice and fight for us just like Ted Cruz. He is the true embodiment of the 21st century conservative we so badly need. We are honored to put our full support behind him in the August 5th primary.
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Issues
Senator Mitch McConnell has been awfully quiet lately. After making it clear in October that he would never again fight Obamacare in the budget or a debt ceiling increase, he has fallen off the face of the earth. Harry Reid pulled the nuclear option in the Senate, yet McConnell has not threatened to hold up the deals on the farm bill or new budget conference. In fact, he hasn’t commented on them at all. He hasn’t even commented on Obama’s Iran capitulation, an issue in which he presumably shares our views.
So what is Mitch McConnell doing as the most powerful Republican in Washington?
He’s fundraising for Thom Tillis, the Charlie Crist of North Carolina, at the house of a Fannie Mae lobbyist.
“A Washington, D.C., fundraiser scheduled for this week for North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican candidate for Senate, will feature a few big GOP names, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., are also slated to attend, according to an updated invitation sent out Monday and obtained by the Washington Examiner.
Thursday’s breakfast event will be at the home of Geoffrey Gray, a lobbyist who has represented Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, among additional interests in banking, financial and other sectors. The event is $500 to $1,000 per head and up to $2,500 for political action committees.
McConnell’s political action committee has donated to Tillis’ campaign, but the appearance at the fundraiser of the Senate’s top Republican is an important, visible stamp of approval for Tillis’ candidacy. McConnell’s colleague, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., endorsed another Republican in the North Carolina Senate primary, physician Greg Brannon. Still, Tillis, the favored candidate of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, holds a considerable fundraising advantage.”
McConnell has a habit of endorsing the most liberal candidate in a primary, as he did with Trey Grayson, Charlie Crist, and Arlen Specter. Thom Tillis, the current Speaker of the North Carolina General Assembly, fits right in with those names:
- He opposed the state’s marriage amendment, which won with 61% of the vote last year.
- As Speaker, he is blocking conservative efforts to halt Common Core in the state.
- He voted for green energy mandates in 2007. Then when the bank he owns, Aquesta Bank, became one of the few institutions engaging in solar energy loans, Tillis blocked conservatives from repealing the mandate (after Republicans took over the general assembly).
- He is a pay-for-play venture socialist at its worst. In fact, he could put the people on K Street to shame without ever having served in Washington. He supported a Democrat to serve on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors because he gave a lot of money to Tillis’s campaign. He has also pushed expansion of toll roads for his special interests and has recruited primary challengers against conservative representatives who oppose them.
- He dramatically watered-down the Republican Voter ID law.
Not surprisingly, his views on illegal immigration will be colored by special interests.
Thom Tillis will fit in very well with Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove in Washington. There is no reason why Senator Kay Hagan should win reelection next year, but conservatives are not exactly excited about replacing her with someone like this.
Mitch McConnell is the defacto head of the NRSC, and there’s no reason they should be supporting Tillis so early in the campaign. Aside for being the most liberal Republican in the race, there is no evidence that he would be the strongest candidate. In fact, his laundry list of sleazy pay-for-play special interest connections will give the Democrats more than enough fodder to distract from Obamacare and keep the seat.
Monday, December 9th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Issues
It takes only an inch of snow to shut down Washington, but even the nuclear option cannot get Republicans to shut down the Senate.
Several weeks after Harry Reid changed hundreds of years’ of Senate rules by abolishing the filibuster for all judicial and executive appointments, Republicans have all but forgotten about it. They could have threatened to block every piece of legislation until the rules are restored, but instead they are fully cooperating with a budget bill to fund Obamacare and increase spending, along with a farm bill to grow government intervention in the agriculture sector. They might even help Democrats pass a bill that can be used as a vehicle for more gun restrictions.
Needless to say, without any fear of reprisal, Democrats plan to jam through a number of Obama nominees before the end of the year on a party-line vote.
Democrats will attempt to pack the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most important court in the country, with Obama’s radical nominees. On Monday evening, the Senate will vote on Patricia Millett. They might try to push through two other D.C. Circuit nominees, Robert Wilkins and Cornelia Pillard, later in the week. Republicans had been blocking all D.C Circuit nominees because the court is currently split between Republican and Democrat appointees, and unlike other courts, this one actually has a very light caseload burden. The addition of three more liberals would be devastating for conservatives because this court has original jurisdiction over many of the constitutional issues arising from political fights in Washington – both in Congress and with Executive overreach.
The Senate will likely vote on the nomination of Congressman Melvin Watt (D-NC) to be the next Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Conservatives strongly oppose Watt because during his career serving on the House Financial Services Committee, he has been a consistent advocate for expanding the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the private housing market. He worked hand-in-glove with Barney Frank to push the affordable housing agenda, which forced banks to underwrite risky loans to those who could not pay them back. He helped bring down the housing market, and by extension, the entire economy.
It would be a disaster for Watt to serve as the top regulator of those failed agencies as director of FHFA. It’s akin to appointing the arsonist as the fire chief.
So what should Republicans do?
They could start by suspending all negotiations on end-of-year legislation, such as the budget deal, farm bill, and extension of Medicare doc fix. But more importantly, as we’ve noted before, in order for the Senate to function members must agree to unanimous consent on a variety of procedures. Without a unanimous consent agreement, no standing committee can conduct business after two hours from the time the Senate convenes. With only two weeks left of this session, Republicans can completely shut down the Senate by denying these UC agreements.
Even after the nuclear option, 45 Senators have the ability to wreak havoc on the majority. Just one senator has the ability to slow down the Senate. It’s all up to Mitch McConnell. He can end the year with a bang or a bust.