This week will be monumental for Congress not only because of whatever outcome arises from the deadline to fund the government, but also the institutional impact of the ways the factional politics play out in getting there. Although it is the hard-right members of the House urging each other to hold the line on spending, it is the much larger faction of “middle-of-the-road” Republicans, and their potential Democratic partners, that must stand firm in the face of this minoritarian power play.
Meanwhile, there’s also much to say about the state of congressional security both in terms of what members are spending on their own to achieve it and how the US Capitol Police allocates its ample resources. Efforts to modernize the House also continue to make progress on several fronts.
This week both chambers return to work Tuesday after Yom Kippur. There is much to atone for.
The Modernization Subcommittee of House Administration will hold a hearing on modernizing the GAO on Wednesday. Thursday, the House Oversight Committee is scheduled to start its inquiry into impeaching President Biden. As for what happens in the House Rules Committee, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
A TIME FOR CHOOSING
We have thought from the start that the most productive way to understand how the House of Representatives in the 118th Congress operates is as a governing coalition, not a simple Republican majority. Far-right conservatives started preparing for this Congress with exactly that language and used the leverage available during the selection of a Speaker to maximize their faction’s position. They’ve followed that playbook ever since, extracting concession after concession out of that Speaker as a cost of maintaining the governing coalition, knowing they can back out at any time.
Having brought the nation to the precipice of default on its debt, that faction now holds Congress at the edge of shutting down the federal government. Finding a resolution to their demands to avoid one through regular appropriations is quite impossible, let alone in one week, and they’ve declared a continuing resolution dead on arrival.
Political observers and other Republicans in Congress are quick to point out that the political consequences of shutdowns typically have been bad for the party and inconsequential to spending reductions. Members, including those in leadership, are critical of the far-right factions’ showboating.
The spectacle, unfortunately, is entirely the point. This faction’s ascendence is deeply tied to the Trumpist core of the Republican base. A shutdown demonstrates their ideological purity and political dominance over the Speaker of the House — a position we’ve all become so accustomed to seeing as all powerful.
Any eventual resolution that requires Democratic votes, meanwhile, enables the faction to expand its numbers by supporting primary opponents of more traditional republicans in safe districts. Ken Buck, for instance, has become the new Liz Cheney.Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for September 25, 2023: A Solution to Stop the Shutdown”