Day Four: The Standoff Continues
Recognizing that the standoff over the government's partial shutdown doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon, Congress is preparing to stay on Capitol Hill all weekend. President Obama has cancelled a planned diplomatic trip to Asia -- though whether he's willing to engage in any diplomatic give and take with Congressional leaders while in town remains unclear. Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives continues its efforts to pass limited spending bills that fund programs that already have wide support.
While Senate leadership remains opposed even to appointing conferees simply to talk about legislation, House Republicans are making the case that they hear America's message that members and senators need to negotiate on budget measures and they stand ready to talk. But, Republican Members have also been clear that they recognize a majority of Americans (51%) still disapprove of ObamaCare and that a budget agreement needs to extend fairness to those average Americans who are not among the privileged (big businesses and Congress) who received a one-year exemption or a federal subsidy to comply with the ObamaCare mandate.
Last night, the House passed two spending bills that would extend federal funding for veteran support programs and that would ensure that National Guard and military reservists face no interruptions in receiving pay. House Republican leaders have already signaled that they intend to keep working their way through a list of targeted spending bills in an effort to get the U.S. Senate to engage in the national conversation over federal spending. On today's agenda were two measures that would extend funding for natural disaster emergency assistance and for low-income women and children in supplemental nutrition programs.
As day four concludes, some Republicans are arguing that the government shutdown should be resolved in tandem with legislation addressing the October 17th deadline for raising the federal government's borrowing limit (debt ceiling). House conservatives like Dr. John Fleming (R-La.) continue to reiterate the importance of setting "conditions" on passing an increase to the debt ceiling, whether those conditions include provisions addressing ObamaCare's economic burdens on average Americans or provisions seeking spending cuts to match an increase in federal borrowing authority. The FRC team continues to make the case to all members that "conditions" on "must-pass" legislation should also include provisions resolving the First Amendment violations inherent in ObamaCare's flawed design.
More than a NOMinal Lawsuit
As scandal engulfed the IRS this year, scores of outrageous revelations of harassment and intimidation by the agency emerged. I would argue that the most egregious of all involved the leaking of the National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) private donor information prior to the 2012 elections -- both a felony and an explosive breach of the group's privacy and the public trust.
Yesterday, NOM filed a lawsuit against the IRS to recover damages and identify the culprit(s) within the IRS. This lawsuit will have implications for every American who files tax returns with the IRS trusting personal information will be kept confidential. The timing of the leaked tax documents containing donor names wasn't coincidental. In the spring of 2012, pro-homosexual activist groups had at that time lost every single marriage referendum and were desperate for a win somewhere. Increasingly, they began relying on the harassment of pro-family donors with the hopes of increasing their spending advantage.
The intimidation tactics went to a whole new level after the Human Rights Campaign (whose president also happened to be a co-chair of President Obama's reelection committee) rushed to post the leaked donor names on its blog. FRC joined NOM in calling for a swift investigation and criminal charges for all of those involved. Yet, eighteen months later, according to NOM Chairman John Eastman, "the Department of Justice, the Inspector General at the Treasury Department, and the Internal Revenue Service itself have all circled the wagons to protect the felon or felons who illegally disclosed NOM's tax return."
On the heels of this lawsuit, we are learning that Dr. Ben Carson is the latest conservative to be targeted by the IRS. He told the Washington Times yesterday that until his speech in front of President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, he "never had been audited before and never really had any encounters with the IRS." We are honored that both Dr. Ben Carson and NOM President Brian Brown will be speaking at next week's Values Voter Summit. And yes, in case you were wondering, our Values Voter Summit speakers have been advised to have their tax records fully up to date prior to giving their speech. But that shouldn't keep you away. There's still time for you to register for the big event at ValuesVoterSummit.org.
Prayer for a City on a Hill
God commanded, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem..." (Ps 122:6). He knew the city would be destroyed in A.D. 70 and the Jewish people scattered across the earth for nearly 1900 years. Gathered by God and reestablished as a nation in 1948, modern Israelis have faced unceasing hostility, war, and threat of destruction. Please join with us and over 100 million believers across the globe this Sunday, October 6, 2013, to observe the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.