The GOP will take control of the House of Representatives in January. Beyond the current debate over who will lead the party’s new majority — will Representative Kevin McCarthy become speaker? — Republicans have to determine which wars to wage with the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Chief among these will be budgetary battles. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that it’s likely Congress will pass a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government until January, rather than the larger ominous bill floated by Democrats that would last until the end of the fiscal year. This means the newly GOP-controlled House will be thrust into a debate over the federal budget immediately after taking office.
Luckily, they don’t have to start from scratch. Former Office of Management and Budget director Russ Vought, who served in the Trump administration, is releasing his own suggested budget on Wednesday. Vought wrote all four of Trump’s proposed budgets during his time at OMB and is hoping the GOP will look to his plan as they gear up for spending fights in the new year.
Vought’s budget focuses on high profile and politically popular moves for the GOP: cutting down the CDC, which implemented vaccine mandates for healthcare workers and military members, and the DoJ, which has been arresting pro-life activists for allegedly blocking entrances to abortion clinics and handing down aggressive sentences for January 6 protesters. It calls for an overall 14 percent reduction in non-defense spending. There would be seven percent cut from the DoJ, 20 percent cut from Health and Human Services (including 37 percent cut from the CDC), 43 percent cut from Housing and Urban Development), and 45 percent cut from foreign aid.
“The most important thing you can do if you care about balancing the budget is to go after the bureaucracy that you have a vote on every single year,” Vought said. ‘The bureaucracy that gave you the Covid mandates, that fired your service members who wouldn’t take the Covid vaccine. The national security apparatus that’s going after pro-lifers, that’s going after people that are concerned with election fraud. Those are the agencies that are funded by appropriations every single year.”
A budget that cuts over $2 million from a “Latinx” science telenovela series, $2.5 billion from Housing and Urban Development, some of which currently goes towards transgender surgeries and hormone therapy, and $41 million from a Soros-funded pro-illegal immigrant group, Vought contends, is the way for the GOP to address the culture wars in a way that is compelling the American people. And it gets away from the classical GOP battles over Social Security and Medicare that have alienated older voters.
“It provides a better opportunity to beat the Democrats. You can’t win budget battles when you’re fighting over whether some program that you both think should exist is affordable or not,” Vought explained. “It’s just not a way to win political battles as opposed to saying, ‘This program is actively putting sewage in your schools and you want to fund it. We are opposed to it.’”
There are several areas that Vought thinks are worth taking to a government shutdown, including removing Critical Race Theory from public schools.
“Government shutdowns are a reality of winning budget battles. We need a speaker that can handle that, not unlike Donald Trump was able to handle it. If I’m in McCarthy’s shoes, I would be thinking of myself as the shutdown speaker,” he said.
Vought’s group, the Center for Renewing America, has been shopping the proposed budget to Republicans on Capitol Hill. They hope that it will provide a blueprint for the GOP as they look for areas to cut wasteful spending or seek to trim the federal budget overall. So far, they say, it’s received a decent amount of buy-in.