If you want to know why the Republicans on Capitol Hill are in a position to be pilloried by the distrusted mainstream media over a looming shutdown fight and squeezed between a Democrat Party salivating at the chance to make the GOP look like it can’t govern and a voter base which has progressed from seething rage to open hostility, this 14-minute speech by Rand Paul on the Senate floor last night before the Senate passed a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through December with all the atrocious spending items the GOP electorate objects to riding along will give you a solid perspective on the problem.
Paul was joined by fellow GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz in opposing the CR, but the bulk of the Senate’s Republican caucus voted for it (from the Louisiana delegation, David Vitter voted against the CR while Bill Cassidy voted for it). Cruz also delivered a stemwinder of a speech indicting not just the budget process but the entire crisis of Washington governance; a link to it is here.
What Paul primarily objected to is the idea that the GOP has no choice but to continue all spending. He says that’s backwards; on Oct. 1 all spending is set to end, and that means the opportunity exists for the Republicans to only agree to that spending they favor. You could call that a shutdown, but as he says the spending is set to expire by law.
That means the law mandates the shutdown, not the GOP. The GOP would be passing bills that fund the spending everyone agrees to, which is less than what is currently being spent. And Paul says rather than to require 60, or even 67, Senate votes to stop money from being wasted, the courage to let spending expire would mean it would take 60 votes to spend on, say, Planned Parenthood or Obamacare.
Would there be a shutdown? Not unless the Democrats would be willing to have one.
Paul says 2005 was the last year the budget process went through what’s known as regular order. That means Congress passes the 12 individual appropriations bills and sends them to the president. He signs them, and those bills fund the government in its 12 parts. Those bills are the key to a rational budget process in which Congress holds the power of the purse. The current method, in which the budget is broken and is merely passed as a continuing resolution which is never altered or reformed in any serious way, favors the Democrats because it puts all the power in Obama’s hands – it’s currently an all-or-nothing proposition which means whatever the Republicans do which displeases Obama will mean a government shutdown for which they will be blamed.
What Paul doesn’t do is to pin this failure on his fellow Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell, who has the power to put this process right. If McConnell had the sand, he would bring all 12 appropriations bills, which have passed the House and have cleared the Senate committees, to the floor. And he would declare that he will brook no filibuster of those bills, because a filibuster involving the federal budget is inappropriate to good governance. Or he could take a less-muscular approach and simply say that if the Democrats wished to filibuster bills having to do with appropriations they’d have to actually filibuster them – meaning they’d better bring their throat lozenges, lots of bottled water and some No-Doz and put on their adult diapers because they were going to have to literally hold the floor to maintain the filibuster.
He would then insure those appropriations bills would pass the Senate and go to Barack Obama’s desk.
If Obama refused to sign them, it would in no way be the fault of the Republicans on Capitol Hill that a government shutdown would result. If Obama signed some and refused others, then the parts of the government on which there was agreement as to spending would not be affected by a shutdown.
Or Obama could realize that Congress was asserting its constitutionally-mandated power of the purse and sign the bills – or at least engage in good-faith negotiations to reach some sort of settlement with Congress on the budget process instead of a my-way-or-a-shutdown diktat, which is his current position.
Paul shows a better way in the video. Naturally, the Senate’s leadership and most of its members ignored him. And this is why the electorate has become red with rage.