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Horowitz: Senate GOP helps codify Biden’s mandates by supporting his budget

Op-ed
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

My colleague Steve Deace likes to say, “Democrats INSPIRE their base to get what they want, while Republicans CONSPIRE against their base to get what they want.” That is exactly what happened in the U.S. Senate Thursday night.

Democrats needed to pass Biden’s budget, funding all the mandates and immoral activities of executive agencies. Republicans needed to give their base the impression they were fighting the mandates while concurrently ensuring that the budget passes. So, they hatched a plan to guarantee that one more Republican than Democrat would be absent, thereby assuring that even if they held an up-or-down vote (with a simple plurality), it would lose.

Democrat leader Chuck Schumer agreed to allow Sen. Mike Lee’s amendment to come up without a 60-vote threshold because four Republicans were out of town: Mitt Romney (R-Utah), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). This allowed every Republican present in the chamber to vote for his amendment, which would have defunded the vaccine mandates. However, as always, it came up one vote short and failed, 46-47. The Cruz amendment, which would have blocked school vaccine mandates, failed 44-49, with GOP Sens. Collins and Blunt joining the Democrats.

Some might focus their ire solely on those four GOP senators who were absent. Undoubtedly, they should be condemned for missing such an important point. But the broader picture reveals that the problem is not just in a few GOP senators but the entire leadership. They only agreed to hold these votes because they knew (or ensured) there would be one more Republican than Democrat missing in the chamber. That was the perfect outcome for them, whereby they got to hold a protest vote for the base but give away their leverage. This is proven by the fact that the other amendment they voted on – a balanced budget requirement by Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) – actually did “win” by 47-45 (Democrat Sens. Manchin and Sinema joined), but that was cleverly set at a 60-vote threshold because they knew they needed it. It’s all kabuki theater.

But the real revealing vote was the cloture vote to proceed with the bill knowing that they didn’t have the votes present to pass the amendment. Seventeen Republicans, including all of leadership, voted for cloture, thereby relinquishing the leverage, knowing they could never secure the votes to change the budget bill. Those Republicans were: Rubio (R-Fla.), Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Rounds (R-S.D.), Capito (R-W.V.), Moran (R-Kan.), Shelby (R-Ala.), Cassidy (R-La.), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tillis (R-N.C.), Cornyn (R-Texas), Portman (R-Ohio), Wicker (R-Miss.), Blunt (R-Mo.), Collins (R-Maine), Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Kennedy (R-La.), and McConnell (R-Ky.). Ultimately, 19 Republicans voted for final passage of the continuing resolution, which passed 65-27: the original 17 plus Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Rounds (S.D.).

The issue is right, the timing is impeccable, and the politics of the matter are auspicious. Never has it been so easy for Republicans to do the right thing and demonstrate to the voters why they should control Congress next year. Yet Mitch McConnell, the great leader waiting for us on the other side of this momentous election, would have none of it.

On the one hand, our government is still immorally masking children on planes, destroying people’s jobs over an increasingly dangerous and expired shot, and even plotting to inject babies and toddlers. Thus, there’s never been a riper issue over which to have a government funding fight. On the other hand, the public has become tired of these mandates even in blue states, Biden’s approval rating is so low, and there is a growing international movement for freedom against creeping authoritarianism within Western (former) democracies. So Republicans will take “yes” for an answer and filibuster the budget bill until all of the mandates are defunded, right? Well, Mitch McConnell is giving you a sneak peak of what his leadership will look like when in the majority.

Already, earlier this week, Mitch told reporters. "I think it’ll all be worked out. There’s no danger of a government shutdown.” Oh, he worked it out, all right.

So, he’s not concerned about the shutdown of our lives, liberty, and property from COVID fascism. He’s not concerned about the government funding billions in more human experiments on behalf of Pfizer while criminalizing real doctors who save lives. He’s not concerned about funding a government that is allying with the despotic Trudeau regime. He’s concerned about shutting down those who shut us down.

Ultimately, only nine senators have signed on to either the Rep. Chip Roy letter or the Sen. Mike Lee letter calling for a defunding of the mandates in the budget bill: Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), James Risch (Idaho), and Kevin Cramer (N.D.). Even with Republicans hopelessly in the minority in the House, nearly a quarter of them voted to advance the current CR, which would extend government funding from the Feb. 18 deadline through March 11. The Freedom Caucus has endorsed a defund fight, but where is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who would be the potential speaker next year? He actually voted for the bill!

With the momentum from the truckers’ protest now commencing in the United States, you will never find a more politically auspicious moment to fight on a more important issue. According to a recent poll, Joe Biden’s net approval rating is -22%. Worse, he is at just 22% approval among independents, 43% among Hispanics, and even among black voters, just 62% approve, which is unprecedented for a Democrat president. In most of the states where Republicans represent, Biden is well under 30% approval. In Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky, for example, Biden is sitting at just 23% approval. What exactly are Republicans scared of?

Democrats are so unpopular that three woke school board members were recalled in a special election in the liberal bastion of San Francisco. Even in Washington state, the Democrat-controlled Senate approved a bill to limit the governor’s emergency powers.

How could Republicans, with the power to block the mandates in the Senate, not attempt to bring this fight to a head when they are mandating a shot that clearly has many safety concerns? Just two weeks ago, a CDC advisory committee proposed extending the length of time between the two doses of the vaccines to mitigate some of the risk of myocarditis. So, if they acknowledge these safety considerations, how can any of this be in the realm of a mandate?

Why did McConnell, as leader, not encourage his caucus to vote to defund and demand that everyone remain in Washington to filibuster the bill?

The bottom line is that McConnell and his compatriots fear a government shutdown more than a shutdown of our lives and liberty. And the dirty little secret is that none of this will change, even with the most historic midterm victories imaginable. Even if Republicans win sizable majorities in Congress, Biden is still president for another two years. The only leverage they have is to harness public sentiment, the Constitution, and righteous indignation and tether their priorities to must-pass bills, such as budgets, debt ceiling increases, and defense authorization bills. But McConnell cares more about upending the Senate process than the Biden administration upending human rights. So, what exactly is the point of a GOP Congress?

McConnell, for his part, is tacitly latching on to some of the platitudes of his base.

However, how can he have their back, if this time he’s not even promising to repeal biomedical fascism “root and branch” as he did with Obamacare? And we all know how that iteration of McConnell’s “all talk and no action” worked out.

Not only will Republicans refuse to lead the polls, they are incapable of even following them.
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