by Thomas R. Eddlem
“I think that not passing single subject spending bills is chaos. I think the fact that we have been governed in this country since the mid-90s by continuing resolution and omnibus is chaos. And the way to liberate ourselves from that is a series of reforms to this body.”
⸻ Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, October 3, as he debated his resolution to vacate Kevin McCarthy from the Speaker chair.
Florida Republican Matt Gaetz was wrong about one thing there: Neither of those things is chaos. They are the plan. The problem in Washington is not that the leadership of the House (and Senate) has failed, but that it has succeeded spectacularly. Omnibus and continuing resolution spending bills that pack nearly all federal spending in one bill are not the bug, they’re the feature in a system that requires political ambiguity on congressional votes.
Omnibus continuing resolutions let the congressional leadership mix Ukraine foreign aid with money for veterans, Israel foreign aid with food stamps and giant military spending increases with agricultural funding in giant omnibus continuing resolutions.
Again, the omnibus system is the plan. The Deep State wants it to be a “vote for this bill or the whole system shuts down” option. And most of all, they want congressmen who vote “no” on omnibus bills to have a veteran in a wheelchair show up in their offices the following week wondering why he can’t get his medical care and if his congressman is to blame.
You, the voter, can never tell what they’re voting for, because they’re always voting against shuttering the government down completely. Or nearly completely, since more than two-thirds of federal funding is “mandatory” and on an autopilot that guarantees automatic spending increases in line with rules cooked into the books by previous congresses. Most federal expenditures are not subject to the appropriations process, and don’t require a vote at all.
But when heterodox congressmen like Matt Gaetz demand accountability for votes, and Gaetz especially noted he wanted a separate vote on Ukraine foreign aid, then people like Gaetz are guaranteed be smeared by the political Uniparty. Thus, it was no surprise that a few minutes later, the House leadership sent up Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) to run down Gaetz for fundraising:
“My phone keeps sending text messages, text messages saying ‘Hey, give me money’…. It’s disgusting. It’s what’s disgusting about Washington.”
Gaetz replied: “I take no lecture on asking patriotic Americans to weigh in and contribute to this fight from those who would grovel and bend knee for the lobbyists and special interests who own our leadership who have [chorus of boos from the Republican side] … Oh, boo all you want! … who have hollowed out this town.”
Graves might as well just admitted his view that fundraising from the American people is “what’s disgusting about Washington” because the Military-Industrial Complex is so generous with donations to his campaign. Graves’ top political donor in 2022 was employees of Boeing, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Of course, among the items sought by Ukraine with their aid money are Boeing F-18 Super Hornets.
This is how the money circle-jerk in Washington operates. Taxpayers fund the Federal government, congressmen fund Ukraine, Ukraine pays Boeing, Boeing donates to congressmen. It’s the same for Lockheed-Martin, Pfizer, Google, and a host of other politically-connected companies that have effectively become part of the government.
This system is why Congress has a 19% approval rating, why the debt is $33 trillion and why it’s climbing at a rate of several trillion dollars per year.
It’s worth noting that it took less than 20 minutes for the House Republican leadership to send up Graves’ smear job against the lead Republican party heretic, but they dawdled all summer with the appropriations bills they had been sent by House committees.
The House under McCarthy passed only three out of 12 of the regular appropriations bills, and those three votes came just three days before the looming shutdown of the new 2024 fiscal year on October 1. Three days before a shutdown is far too late, since the Senate must also pass the bills, and differences must be reconciled in a conference committee.
The speaker is charged with running the House in a timely manner, and McCarthy clearly wasn’t doing his job.
Note also that 10 of the 12 committees dutifully released their reports back in May-July. McCarthy could have brought any of those bills to the House floor for a vote at any time after they were approved by the committees.
Gaetz was right about one thing, mentioning previous remarks from his colleague Andy Biggs: “As you heard my colleague Mr. Biggs say, that was never the plan from Speaker McCarthy. The week before we moved on to those single subject appropriations bills, the plan was another CR [continuing resolution]. He pitched a CR. They tried to get us to vote for a CR.” Gaetz noted that they moved a “only when a brave few said ‘We are done governing by continuing resolution.’”
It was the plan all along.
One thing is sure: The political leadership is going to change the rules so that this kind of embarrassment doesn’t happen to them again.