Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Top 5 This Week

$1.2T Spending Bill Sent to Senate With Government Shutdown Looming; MTG Initiates Vote to Remove Speaker Johnson

MTG Leads Far-Right Insurrection to Topple Speaker After Narrow Spending Bill Win.

Photo: Gage Skidmore

The House Republican majority’s inability to govern effectively was on full display today, as the narrow passage of a $1.2 trillion spending bill was immediately overshadowed by the eruption of a civil war over leadership. Even the most fundamental task of keeping the federal government funded sparked mass insurrection within the GOP ranks, plunging the House GOP caucus into dysfunction and disarray.

Just hours after barely averting a government shutdown, unhinged Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) launched a bid to oust the newly installed Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.)—a man she had supported just months prior. This latest bout of GOP infighting epitomizes the conflict paralyzing the Republican conference and threatening legislative chaos through 2024.

The 286-134 vote reflected deep Republican divisions, with 101 GOP members supporting the bill and 112 opposing it. Democratic support was stronger at 185 votes for and only 22 against. Passing with just two votes above the two-thirds threshold required under expedited procedures, the tight margin underscores growing conservative disillusionment with the GOP’s governing approach.

Johnson was forced to rely overwhelmingly on Democratic votes to muscle the omnibus funding bill across the finish line, with only 101 Republicans backing the must-pass legislation. This stunning rebuke from his own ranks underscores how little control Johnson exerts over an increasingly unruly majority emboldened by its radical flank.

The slapdash process mirrored Republicans’ embarrassing start to the 118th Congress, which saw them grind House operations to a two-week standstill over the Speakership. Johnson’s predecessor Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) capitulated to hardliners’ myriad demands, only to be unceremoniously stabbed in the back months later.

While decrying process deficiencies, Democrats touted substantive wins like increased education, health research, and border funding. Senate Appropriations chair Patty Murray (D-WA) cited “fighting off literally hundreds of extreme Republican poison pills” as a key victory.

The package adheres to spending caps negotiated last year between McCarthy and President Biden, which White House budget director Shalanda Young projected will trim $1 trillion from deficits over the decade. However, many conservatives deemed those limits insufficient, fueling the intra-party backlash.

The bill allocates over 70% of discretionary funds to defense, a perennial priority for GOP hawks that curbed opposition in some quarters. But the hefty Pentagon outlay failed to quell the uprising from fiscal conservatives demanding deeper cuts to domestic programs.

Speaker Mike Johnson brought the package forward under a fast-track process to circumvent prolonged debate, a strategy that inflamed tensions within his caucus.

The bill’s path forward remains rocky in the evenly divided Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) implored bipartisan cooperation to “make sure the government stays open.”

Johnson framed the package as “the best achievable outcome in a divided government,” tacitly acknowledging dissent from the far-right MAGA wing of the party. Conservative hardliners excoriated the bill as fiscally bloated and devoid of adequate policy riders, with Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.) deriding it as “a complete and utter surrender.”

In response, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene initiated a long-shot effort to remove Johnson from the Speakership, deploying the same hardball tactics used to oust his predecessor Kevin McCarthy. While postponed until after the upcoming recess, Greene’s maneuver signals mounting pressure on Republican leadership.

The discord underscores profound GOP fractures over spending philosophy and negotiating strategy. The solidifying allegiance of fiscal hawks to brinksmanship has strained the party’s governing coalition and stymied legislative compromises.

MTG is outraged over the bill’s funding of organizations that provide vital services like condom distribution, needle exchanges, and support for LGBTQ+ individuals and immigrants. Disingenuously cloaked in fiscal prudence, this objection emanates from the Republican Party’s deep-seated hostility toward the well-being of marginalized communities. Rep. Robert Aderholt’s (R-AL) insistence that such funds be stripped from the bill reveals the GOP’s regressive social agenda of inflicting tangible harm on vulnerable populations.

Aderholt’s ridiculous claim that a partial weekend shutdown would be a mere “technicality” displays an alarming ignorance about how the economy works. If a funding lapse were to occur, vital government functions from military preparedness to public health would grind to a halt, jeopardizing national security and American lives. On top of that, market confidence could take a major hit, resulting in a declining stock market.

The Republican civil war shows no signs of abating, as the allegiance of fiscal hawks to brinkmanship tactics has strained the party’s governing coalition almost to its breaking point. The threat of more debilitating standoffs and legislative paralysis looms large, with MTG’s long-shot bid to remove Speaker Johnson representing an ominous sign of the mounting pressures on Republican leaders.

As the dynamics fueling the conflict show little sign of resolution, the 118th Congress could be defined by a cycle of dysfunction and chaos reflecting the Republican Party’s existential identity crisis over its governing priorities and approaches. For an increasingly radicalized conservative movement rejecting democratic norms, the fundamentals of legislative bargaining appear to be slipping away now that the far-right views bipartisanship as a mortal sin.