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Bait-and-switch budgeting is back, baby!
Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Bait-and-switch budgeting is back, baby!

Instead of capitulating to Democrats in one vote, Republicans get to have two votes this time. But look on the bright side: At least Congress will have a nice Christmas break.

Oh, look! Republicans are getting ready to surrender to Democrats on spending yet again! But don’t worry. The Republicans will fight for you on the next budget deadline, even though they are terrified to meet this deadline without giving Democrats what they want.

Unless the GOP sheds its fear of a government shutdown — and fears the shutdown of our society, economy, security, and border more than a partial and temporary lapse in federal funding — there is simply no reason for Republicans to control the House of Representatives.

Under the continuing resolution introduced Monday, Republicans under new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) would keep funding every last odious Biden administration policy past the current November 17 expiration date. Although Johnson has been telling reporters incessantly that he is changing the way Washington works, he’s playing the same old game, offering a “clean” CR with no spending cuts, reforms, or policy changes — even when it comes to the crisis on the southern border.

In reality, there is nothing clean about this approach. What we need is a clean border. Instead, this bill would fully fund Biden’s dirty policies that have fueled the border invasion, inflation, the Green New Deal, the weaponization of government, and other cultural rot.

The bill doesn’t even defund Hamas!

This is why Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised Johnson on Monday for “moving in our direction by advancing a CR that does not include the highly partisan cuts that Democrats have warned against.”

So where is the nuance? How is Johnson overhauling the way business is done in D.C.?

The new speaker thinks he has a clever idea. Rather than pass a CR into December and then pass an omnibus with all of Biden’s priorities before Christmas, he would have the CR expire at two different times. Appropriations for four of the 12 spending bills ensconced in the current CR — agriculture, energy and water, military construction-veterans affairs, and transportation-housing — would expire on January 19. The remaining eight bills would expire two weeks later on February 2.

Take that, Biden! As Johnson said Sunday, we “will not allow end-of-year megabus spending packages to continue under my leadership.”

It’s a classic example of the wise man pointing to the moon and the idiot focusing on the finger.

The reason conservatives have long focused on the process of not passing full-year omnibus bills — and certainly not before Christmas — was so that our members wouldn’t get jammed into funding bad policies. But ultimately, it’s not about the process, it’s about the policies.

If Johnson is scared to confront Democrats on policy and unwilling to engage in brinksmanship, then this is all an exercise in futility. Bad policies will continue with full funding. Instead of capitulating to Democrats in one vote, Republicans will have two votes. But at least members get a nice Christmas break.

It would be one thing if Johnson had pushed for a similar approach, saved most of the policy disagreements for early next year, but immediately placed one or two of our top priorities in the current continuing resolution. That would have been an easier pill to swallow.

For example, the border is obviously out of control. Clamping down on illegal immigration is a consensus issue among Republicans, and ending “catch-and-release” polls extremely well. That would have at least given voters some reason to think there really is a new sheriff in Washington.

The fact that Johnson is unwilling to fight on a budget deadline shows that no matter what Joe Biden does to the country, Republicans will always pre-emptively hand Democrats what they want for fear of a government shutdown.

Checkmate. What is the purpose of holding the House majority with a Democrat president if Republicans refuse to use the leverage of a budget fight? As I’ve noted before, if Republicans harbor this degree of irrational fear of even a short-term partial federal shutdown, they will fail to fight for us even if they win control of all three branches.

Let’s face it: Even in the event of a smashing victory in 2024, Democrats will still retain control of the Senate — at least enough to filibuster any House Republican budget bill supported by a Republican president. So if we need to “avert a government shutdown at all costs,” that would require them to give Democrats a “clean CR” even if they win big next year. That’s precisely what happened in 2017-2018, when Republicans surrendered on every budget bill despite controlling the House, the Senate, and the White House.

Who says history never repeats itself? Oh, well. There is always next time, right?

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