What Next for the House? (Take 2)

John has offered his opinion that the House GOP should have little to fear if they force Obama to veto a continuing resolution that omits funding for Planned Parenthood, thereby causing a government shutdown. This may be correct, though I have my doubts it would work out well for Republicans.

We’ve had this argument before on Power Line, so readers needn’t send in comments that the 2013 shutdown didn’t seem to hurt the GOP on election day 2014. I’ll stick with my position that government shutdowns do not work well for Republicans, and we can argue about it again some other day.

It would be a moot point if Republicans went about the budget fight in a more sensible way. The biggest failing in my mind—the real failure of GOP leadership in both houses—is that we’re once again looking at passing yet another omnibus continuing resolution for the whole darn government rather than 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 for funding for every government department on behalf of a single Democratic Party special interest group. That would transform the politics of any shutdown radically.

Maybe Congress will still do this in the fullness of time, but can’t finish the 12 appropriation bills by the Oct. 1 deadline. In this case it is indeed foolish to shut down the whole government with the mechanism of a short-term continuing resolution. It would be horrible tactics.

At this point I’d like to bring in a witness: California Rep. Tom McClintock. I’ve known Tom for over 25 years, and they don’t come any more conservative than Tom. No one would ever make the charge that Tom is a RINO. A couple weeks ago, Tom resigned from the House Freedom Caucus because he has come to doubt their strategic grasp of how to go about confronting Obama. Here’s his full letter of resignation:

September 16, 2015

Congressman Jim Jordan
Chairman, House Freedom Caucus
1524 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20515


Dear Jim:

When the House Freedom Caucus formed in January, I fervently hoped that it would provide responsible and effective leadership to advance conservative principles in the House of Representatives.

I know that every member of the HFC sincerely supports these principles, but as I have expressed on many occasions during our meetings, I believe the tactics the HFC has employed have repeatedly undermined the House’s ability to advance them.  Allow me to review a few examples.

On February 27th, we faced the imminent shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security over the funding of Obama’s unlawful amnesty orders for illegal immigrants.  Although the American people overwhelmingly opposed these orders, they also overwhelmingly opposed shutting down DHS.  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 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.

In May, the House had the opportunity to adopt the most important free trade bill in nearly two decades, restoring the long-standing and essential process that has made it possible for our nation to negotiate free trade agreements with other nations.  At the behest of its board, most HFC members combined with the vast majority of House Democrats in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat this legislation.

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.  Ironically, while Harry Reid and Senate Democrats blocked a vote on the Resolution of Disapproval in the Senate, the House Freedom Caucus leadership was instrumental in blocking its consideration in the House.

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.

I have strongly opposed the public funding of abortions throughout my 29 years in public office, but this tactic promises only to shield Senate Democrats from their responsibility for a government shutdown and to alienate the public from the pro-life cause at precisely the time when undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practices are turning public opinion in our favor.  I suspect this is why the leading pro-life organizations have been conspicuously unwilling to endorse the HFC position.

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.

I feel honored to know and work with every member of the House Freedom Caucus.  I have never served with a group of patriots more devoted to our country and dedicated to restoring American founding principles.  However, I feel that the HFC’s many missteps have made it counterproductive to its stated goals and I no longer wish to be associated with it.

Accordingly, I resign.

To repeat—this is not about ideology. But if you’ve lost Tom McClintock. . .