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Congress At War With Itself Over The 2024 War Budget

Stange bedfellows

Last week we saw that Ro Khanna was the only member of the House Armed Services Committee to vote against the new 1,200 page, $886 billion bloated Pentagon budget (NDAA). Unlike almost all the other members of the committee, Khanna refuses to accept campaign contributions from the Military Industrial Complex. But the real battled began yesterday. As John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle reported, the committee kept the bill “as narrowly focused as possible in order to avoid jurisdictional problems with other committees.” But the nihilists and Neo-Nazis— often the same members— “who pressured McCarthy during January’s speaker fight to avoid ‘Christmas tree’ bills— want to include all sorts of non-germane amendments,” mostly messaging garbage to their MAGAt constituents.

McCarthy and Scalise plan to begin debate this week and hope to pass it on Friday. Good luck with that. Yesterday was the mark up in the Rules Committee, which includes 3 off-the-rails sociopaths— Chip Roy (R-TX), Ralph Norman (R-SC) and Thomas Massie (R-KY)— enough to jam up the works if they stick together against chair Tom Cole (R-OK) and the 5 other Republicans— unless ranking member Jim McGovern (D-MA) and the 3 other Democrats come to their rescue. Roy, Norman and Massie are members of the House “Freedom” Caucus, which wants nothing more nor less than chaos and dysfunction. Norman has already said he’s voting no. Chip Roy said “While this NDAA makes some improvements, there are still glaring issues at the DOD that it needs to address in order to receive my support. The Department of Defense’s transformation into a social engineering experiment wrapped in a uniform is the single greatest threat to this nation’s ability to defend itself— and Republicans are complicit. Year after year, Republicans pass an NDAA that propagates the cultural rot at DOD while massive defense contractors get rich.” They passed a "partial" rule last night and will be back in session today to try to hash out the tough stuff. Jim McGovern: “I would be remiss if I didn’t say that we are here at 11 p.m. because once again, Republicans are fighting with Republicans in a back room about how to make what should have been a bipartisan bill into a hyper-partisan bill.”

Bresnahan and Caygle noted that “McCarthy and GOP leaders will struggle to even pass the rule for the NDAA, much less the 1,200-plus page bill itself. It’s the latest sign of the difficulties that McCarthy and senior Republicans will face as they attempt to muscle through FY2024 funding bills and other high-profile legislation with only GOP votes. The NDAA is usually done on a bipartisan basis, but facing heavy criticism from the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives, McCarthy is under pressure to give on a number of high-profile issues touching defense policy.” The Politico morning crew made a similar point: “In the past, House leaders typically have told the hard right to pound sand, knowing they weren’t going to vote for the final bill anyway. But after pissing off [fascists] during the debt limit standoff, McCarthy looks poised to make a different calculation this time.”

Bresnahan and Caygle pointed out that “the further House Republicans move to the right on any of these proposals, the more valuable every GOP vote becomes due to their razor-thin, four-vote margin. And that just means more trouble for moderate House Republicans already chafing at conservative domination of these policy debates.” Vulnerable Republicans in swing districts— like Californians John Duarte, Mike Garcia, David Valadao, Michelle Steel and Young Kim, New Yorkers like Mike Lawler, Anthony D’Esposito, Brandon Williams, Marc Molinaro and Nick LaLota, plus Republicans in other Biden districts like Tom Kean (NJ), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Don Bacon (NE) and David Schweikert (AZ)— have a tough time voting for crackpot proposals from “Freedom” Caucus extremists.

More amendments than ever in history were filed— over 1,500 and they have to all be dealt with, though not all with floor votes. “Abortion, DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) funding, critical race theory, climate change, transgender issues and drag shows, Ukraine aid, Russia, Afghanistan, China and Taiwan ares some of the issues covered. Bresnahan and Caygle wrote that “House ‘Freedom’ Caucus members are pushing dozens of proposed changes to the legislation… Every ‘culture war’ provision from the ‘Freedom’ Caucus that’s added to the base legislation will cost Democratic votes. It will also make GOP moderates unhappy.”

Adam Smith (D-WA), the Armed Services ranking member, told Politico Monday that he wasn’t “remotely” confident the bill will pass this week. “Without the controversial amendments, Smith predicted, well over 300 House members would vote for the bill. With them, ‘you lose most, if not all, Democrats,’ he said— and possibly enough centrist Republicans to tank the bill. The stakes extend beyond the fate of the $886 billion Pentagon budget to a more profound question: Have the culture wars fatally infected one of Congress’s strongest bastions of bipartisanship— showering the Pentagon with taxpayer money?”

Besides all the amendments on women’s Choice, transgender troops, diversity, equity and inclusion (which drives Republicans up a wall), some of the Confederate are squawking about base renamings that have eliminated the names of treasonous Confederates like themselves.

McCarthy has to navigate between the demands of the extremists and the need for Democratic votes in order to get a bill ultimately signed into law, something CNN is calling a legislative landmine, which is also reporting on the bipartisan move to stop Biden from sending cluster bombs to Ukraine. Far right fanatic Matt Gaetz has joined Sara Jacobs and Ilhan Omar in introducing that amendment. There are now 19 Democrats advocating for the position opposing cluster bombs. From Pramila Jayapal:

Cluster munitions have been banned by nearly 125 countries under the United Nations Convention on Cluster Munitions because of the indiscriminate harm they cause, including mass civilian injury and death. That is why since Fiscal Year 2010, and in all subsequent appropriations bills including last year, Congress has enacted severe restrictions on the transfer of cluster munitions with bipartisan support. It is also why Members of Congress from across the political spectrum have long called on the United States to join global allies and sign on to that U.N. Convention, and why they joined nearly 40 civil society organizations to urge the Biden Administration not to engage in any transfer of cluster munitions.
Experts warn that the likelihood of leaving behind dangerous unexploded material is dependent on several factors and potentially much higher than the Pentagon has estimated. The reality is that there is no such thing as a safe cluster bomb— and using or transferring them for use hurts the global effort to eradicate these dangerous munitions, taking us down the wrong path. The U.S. history of using cluster munitions— particularly the legacy of long-term harm to civilians in Southeast Asia— should prevent us from repeating the mistakes of our past.
We can and will continue to support our Ukrainian allies’ defense against Russia’s aggression. However, that support does not require we undermine the United States’ leadership in advocating for human rights around the world, enable indiscriminate harm that will only further endanger Ukrainian civilians, or distance us from European partners in the conflict who are signatories to the U.N. Convention opposing cluster munitions.
The White House’s announcement runs counter to Congress’s restrictions on the transfer of these weapons and severely undermines our moral leadership. It underscores the work still ahead to press the U.S. to join the international community in banning the use of cluster munitions.

The statement was signed by Pramila, Jim McGovern (MA), Barbara Lee (CA), Ilhan Omar (MN), Greg Casar (TX), Sara Jacobs (CA), Jamaal Bowman (NY), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL), Lloyd Doggett (TX), Maxwell Frost (FL), Chuy García (IL), Jimmy Gomez (CA), Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), Mark Pocan (WI), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Mark Takano (CA-), Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Jill Tokuda (HI).

Marjorie Traitor Greene and other Russo-Republicans are demanding Biden stop sending money to Ukraine entirely and Lauren Boebert is carrying on about pornography on bases. Traitor Greene has also put forward an amendment-- straight from Mar-a-Lago or the Kremlin-- demanding that the U.S. withdraw from NATO.


1 comentario

Linda Kautzman
Linda Kautzman
12 jul 2023


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