". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Congress Gets out of Dodge with September Battles Brewing

July 28, 2023

Hundreds of House and Senate members are jetting out of town for August recess, leaving behind a messy trail of unfinished and half-finished business. Before they climbed in cars and checked their bags, they did manage to set up an interesting September, passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of the upper chamber and laying the groundwork for fall fireworks in the other. On both sides of the Capitol, there’s a persistent, nagging theme: abortion and what to do about it.

While Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) duked it out over military abortions in the Senate, House Republicans had their hands full keeping their own party in line on the same subject with appropriations. As insiders know, spending bills are usually a hard slog as it is, a tedious process that drags on for months — only to be rolled into one gigantic boondoggle when time typically runs out.

For context, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins points out, Congress hasn’t passed all 12 individual spending bills since 1997. “And that’s their main job: appropriations. They haven’t done this in totality for 26 years. In fact, what we’ve seen is [Congress use] continuing resolutions [to] just kick the can down the road — or, worse, these omnibus bills that lump everything in and they’re totally irresponsible fiscally.”

Now that a strong conservative majority is in charge, Perkins went on, “Republicans are actually doing what they were elected to do, and that is be responsible. They’re cutting the out-of-control spending of the Biden administration.” But, even more egregious — at least in the eyes of this White House — is that conservatives “are going after their unholy trinity of abortion, transgenderism, and the climate.”

In the Senate, that’s been a battle royal, as Tuberville gives his party a months-long lesson in courage under fire. His hold on military promotions until the Pentagon rolls back its lawless abortion funding has stiffened the spine of even the squishiest of Republicans. When the House passed its version of the NDAA — a proposal the media declared doomed for its pro-life pushback — McCarthy made it clear that there will be no rolling over when it comes to the core values of their party.

To conservatives, who’ve never seen this level of extremism injected into our Armed Forces, it only made sense that they would return the military to its primary mission. “To think that … the Democrats would not focus on force readiness, lethality, effectiveness, but would instead treat our military as a social experiment, as a climate experiment to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, transgender policies, CRT in our academies and in our military training [is appalling],” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) told Perkins on “Washington Watch.”

“[They’re] trying to electrify our vehicles, trying to pay for abortions for the first time in the history of the country, starting last year, paying for transgender surgeries, those sorts of things. And what Republicans did is we actually came together and passed the first Republican national defense bill in many years. And we actually rolled back those policies, which is why we got nearly every Republican to vote for it. … And yet, the media dishonestly accused Republicans of making military spending a culture issue. And all we did was to roll back what the Democrats had done when they had the majority for two years under President Biden and [former Speaker] Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).”

On Thursday night, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) managed to pass (86-11) their version of the defense bill before the Senate adjourned — an unremarkable feat since it delays the real showdown over cultural landmines until conference. “The House and Senate passed wildly different NDAAs,” Family Research Council’s senior director for Government Affairs, Quena Gonzalez, told The Washington Stand, “with Senate Democrats forcing a vote on an NDAA that is negligently silent on and complicit with Biden’s radical woke agenda. House Republicans passed one that confronts that agenda head-on. Now, all of that will be hashed out in September, behind closed doors, so it’s important for our people to make their voices heard.”

But not everything ended on a high note in McCarthy’s chamber. Thanks to a handful of moderates, the progress the House made on one of its annual appropriations bills, this one for the Department of Agriculture, ran into a buzzsaw over the GOP’s attempt to block mail-order abortion drugs. A delegation of New York Republicans expressed their “displeasure” that conservatives would use the proposal as a vehicle to protect life.

Although Republicans did manage to pass their version of a budget for Veterans Affairs, “The Ag[riculture] bill failed, because moderate Republicans balked at a provision making it illegal to mail abortion drugs into pro-life states for off-label — and potentially illegal — at-home abortions that leave women vulnerable to trafficking and medical complications,” Gonzalez explained. “It’s a sad day when Republicans vote to block protections for women and the unborn. Nothing says ‘pro-woman’ like sending women home to manage their own horrific abortions or ignoring the plight of women who are coerced by their partners or pimps into having an abortion without ever seeing a doctor. ‘Safe, legal, and rare’ is fast becoming ‘off-label, secret, and ubiquitous.’”

To Gonzalez and House conservatives, “It’s a shame when Democrats do this, but at least they’re honest that they are absolutely beholden to ‘big abortion.’ But for Republicans, whose party platform is unequivocally pro-life, to actively conspire with Democrats to sabotage pro-life protections is beyond the pale — and voters need to hold them accountable.”

For now, the drama is on hold. Congress is busy emptying its offices for a long summer break and heading home, where, pro-lifers hope, they’ll get an earful from their districts. “The American people gave the Republicans a majority in the House for a reason,” Good insisted. “We ran on fiscal responsibility. We ran on combating the terrible, harmful Biden agenda. We ran on combating the harmful policies [that] the country is suffering under. And that’s our commitment … And we need to follow through and deliver for the American people and not let them down.”

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.