Republican agreement to omnibus ’emasculated’ them, made fiscal conservatism a ‘lie’

Fiscal conservative Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said that Republicans “emasculated” themselves with the recent budget deal they agreed to under the leadership of Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and that any notion Republicans are fiscally conservative is a “lie.”

Republicans in both houses have reportedly agreed to the framework for an omnibus spending bill that will fund the government through most of 2023, a move that Paul and other conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have said is a bad idea when Republicans are about to take the House majority.

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the deal Tuesday night along with a one-week stopgap measure that would keep the government funded until the omnibus could be passed.

Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) both agreed to the deal, but no specifics about the level of spending and increases to defense and domestic spending have yet been released.

“The lie”

Paul said,

This brings upon us the lie that Republicans really are fiscally conservative. The Democrats aren’t. They will not pretend to be fiscally conservative. Not one of them up here gives a darn about the debt. The Republicans all profess to be, but when you make them vote on the PAYGO resolution, pay as you go, that we can’t have new spending without offsetting it, they always vote to exempt it. So the omnibus will be 3,000 pages. We’ll get it two hours before they want to pass it. No one will read it. But hidden in the 3,000 pages will be we’re going to waive PAYGO.

He added, “It would take 41 votes. Forty-one votes would stop the big spending. If 41, one of us said no and held our ground until there was a compromise, we could force Democrats to reduce spending. We have completely and totally abdicated the power of the purse. Republicans are emasculated. They have no power, and they are unwilling to gain that power back.”

Republican leaders in the House encouraged their members to vote against the stopgap bill and supported a shorter-term spending package until January when Republicans have the House majority, but they were overruled by McConnell in the Senate.

Because the House majority is currently with the Democrats, House Republicans do not have the power to stop the omnibus or the stopgap package without Senate Republican support.

Consequences of the midterms

A 50-50 Senate that will go to 51 Democrats in January means that the Republican agenda will have fewer teeth than it might have otherwise.

It may be at least two years of gridlock as disagreements between the parties prevent much from getting done, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

It may also be that McConnell and other Senate Republicans calculate that the short-term damage from continued overspending can be blamed on Democrats in 2024, giving Republicans an advantage.

The House majority will only be a few votes, which could also weaken their agenda (but will allow them to pursue other priorities like investigating Biden).

Can the spigot be turned off?

The sooner we can turn off the spigot, however, the sooner we will have a chance to get control of inflation. Delaying that by two more years could plunge the country into a recession with a difficult recovery as people begin to cut back on unnecessary spending to afford the necessities like food, gas, and housing.

It will be difficult to restrain spending because of provisions in many government assistance programs that tie increases to inflation.