The smallest-ever House Republican majority is squabbling once again, and the irony is that much of the frustration is focused on a tiny group of Republicans who tanked what they claimed to want last year.
The usual gang of safe-district Republicans, Republicans running for higher office and anti-team players are agitating to shut down the border or shut down the government, even though many of them voted against a bill last year that would have implemented meaningful border security provisions and cut spending — even with divided government.
Ironically, the then-chair of the Freedom Caucus, Scott Perry, negotiated this deal — which included the entirety of the House GOP’s border security package with the exception of strengthening the E-Verify immigration system. It cut 8 percent of all federal spending while leaving defense at its current levels. The bill, which was primarily authored by Florida’s Byron Donalds, had buy-in across the GOP spectrum; joining Donalds in the negotiation were the co-chairs of the Main Street Caucus, Stephanie Bice and Dusty Johnson, as well as Chip Roy and Kelly Armstrong.
The bill was better in all respects from a Republican perspective than what the House passed yesterday because it included both deep spending cuts and meaningful border security. However, that was insufficient for twenty-one Republicans, who tanked it because they claimed to be philosophically opposed to passing a continuing resolution. They instead pushed for Congress to continue passing full-year, agency-specific appropriations bills.
House Republicans aligned with Speaker Mike Johnson are fuming at their colleagues like Andy Biggs, Eli Crane, Nancy Mace, Matt Rosendale and more, who all helped kill the September 2023 CR that helped pave the way to Kevin McCarthy’s ouster. In all, eleven of the twenty-one Republicans who tanked the 2023 measure are now pressing to shut down the border or the government. Some of their colleagues are keeping literal receipts, texting around screenshots of their seemingly newfound commitment to border security.
Montana’s Matt Rosendale, a Maryland native on the cusp of mounting a Senate bid, is one of the eleven — he accused his Republican colleagues of “continuing the policies of the Radical Left for another two months.”
“They are more focused on getting Twitter likes and attention than actually delivering GOP policy wins,” one senior GOP aide told me. “All they care about is selling their brand. They’re not here to win, they’re here to monetize a brand instead of actually solving the issues that matter to their constituents. Because it seems like they are fighting all the time, they never get punished.”
The problem with their argument is that, when given the opportunity to both cut spending and secure the border, they voted against it. The internal squabbles under McCarthy have continued under Johnson, who has welcomed Freedom Caucus members in for meetings, only for them to immediately leak inaccurate information to liberal Hill journalists who have professional and ideological interests in fomenting Republican chaos.
In one instance, Representative Ralph Norman walked out in the middle of a meeting with Johnson and proceeded to spill the meeting’s contents to lurking journalists. While he claimed that they are trying to get new top-line spending levels, those working on the negotiations say that there was never any intention of ditching the top line deal that Johnson agreed to. Norman, coincidentally, is considering a primary challenge to Senator Lindsey Graham.
On our radar
‘DESERVES SEVERE PUNISHMENT’ The Biden Department of Justice recommended former Trump advisor Peter Navarro spend six months in prison and pay a $200,000 fine for dodging a subpoena to appear before Congress’s committee on the January 6 Capitol riot.
HOUTHIS ESCALATE ATTACKS Houthi rebels continue to attack US ships and trade routes in the Red Sea, as President Joe Biden admitted this week that missile strikes in Yemen are not deterring the pirates’ behavior.
PAT DOWN GOP candidate Pat Harrigan, who is running for Congress in North Carolina, is facing backlash for comparing deporting illegal immigrants to Nazi Germany in an October 2022 interview.
A tough Roe to hoe
The campaign consultant wars are still raging as Politico published a takedown of the DeSantis campaign as the “worst in history” by Curt Anderson and Alex Castellanos.
The article seeks to demolish the idea that DeSantis was just a victim of Trump, noting that the campaign failed to have a coherent strategy, outsourced to its PAC a nationwide grassroots effort that seemingly never materialized, and burned through cash with no return on investment.
Axiom’s Rob Phillips responded, “On Message spends more time parading as experts on Sunday shows than on winning campaigns. Axiom Strategies had more victories in the last six months than On Message has had in the last six years. No one’s taking seriously the musings of a Bob Dole Democrat or the brains behind Bobby Jindal’s failed presidential campaign.”
Cockburn has previously written about the trials and tribulations of Axiom founder Jeff Roe, who left his role as the top advisor to Never Back Down PAC about a month ago. It was apparently Roe’s idea to establish a massive ground game in South Texas a half a year before Iowa, and reports suggest his firms made an unusually high percentage of incoming cash to Never Back Down. His Axiom Mafia seemingly had near-full control of the DeSantis campaign. Memes floating around during the primary depicted him as the “hamburgular,” jetting from losing campaign to losing campaign with a bag of money in tow.
However, a GOP consultant told Cockburn that Anderson shading Roe is like “asking the new Polish bakery which crime family they prefer: Gambino or Lucchese? Both will rob you blind, break your legs, and be self righteous about it. But one has a Bob Dole Democrat (whatever that means).”
Is Michelle Obama running?
Florida representative Byron Donalds, former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Senator Ted Cruz have been just some of the public figures speculating that Michelle Obama might replace Joe Biden as the Democrats’ frontrunner in the upcoming election.
The theory has been floated around by conservative commentators for awhile now, including by the likes of Alex Jones and Steve Bannon. This week, though, the theory received a major boost and more folks are taking it seriously.
“What’s going to happen in this next election?,” asked the former first lady on Jay Shetty’s podcast, On Purpose, this Sunday. “I’m terrified about what could possibly happen, because our leaders matter. Who we select, who speaks for us, who holds that bully pulpit, it affects us in ways sometimes I think people take for granted.”
Cindy Adams, a notorious gossip columnist, wrote in the New York Post that we shouldn’t be “shocked if Michelle Obama sneaks her way into the race.”
–Juan P. Villasmil