The Hill's Near-Debt Experience


The Hill's Near-Debt Experience

April 13, 2018

Washington doesn't mind passing the buck, but it sure hates cutting them! And after last month's $1.3 trillion omnibus, Congress is discovering their spending binge has struck a nerve. Members from both parties are taking a bruising in their districts, especially Republicans -- and if they aren't careful, they'll take a bruising in November too.

Three weeks after disgusting voters with their latest budget bloat, members aren't exactly enjoying the trips home. "They're upset," Congressman Dave Brat (R-Va.) said of his constituents. "They're saying, 'What are you guys doing up there?' If the Republicans stand for anything, it's fiscal responsibility." Although a big chunk of the omnibus went to a good cause -- the military -- there's a very real sense that the rest was just Congress, using the country's credit cards like an irresponsible teenager.

Late yesterday, Republicans tried to put out the fires, fast-tracking a Balanced Budget Amendment they thought might take some of the pressure off. Instead, it only insulted voters more because it was purely symbolic and clearly intended to take the focus off the bloated omnibus vote. Congress doesn't have enough support for the idea, which would also take a considerable state effort to get anywhere close to ratification. Although a lot of groups, including FRC, have supported the idea for years, Thursday's move seemed more than a little disingenuous.

"If you were serious about trying to prevent a very dangerous and debilitating bankruptcy of the United States of America," argued Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), "the votes were in February and March." President Trump, who was boxed into signing the bill because it was the quickest way to bump up defense spending, has more than a little buyer's remorse. In the days since, he's more appalled than anyone by the price tag. "I will never sign another bill like this again," he said angrily. "I'm not going to do it again. Nobody read it. It's only hours old. Some people don't even know what is in -- $1.3 trillion -- it's the second largest ever."

But if Congress thought yesterday's sham would put them back in voters' good graces, they were mistaken. Americans don't want to talk about budgeting responsibly -- they want to do it. If the GOP wants to be taken seriously on spending, they have to prove it. Of course, one of the problems in Congress is that it's become impossible to govern through regular order. "What we've always been asking is for Congress to do its job and to complete appropriations bills on time," said the White House legislative affairs director. "When they don't, you're left in a position where the president is asked to sign a giant omnibus or shut down the government. One way to fix this is for Congress to actually have a normal appropriations process."

Until then, the president does have some weapons at his disposal. One of them -- a process called rescission -- would give Trump the power to roll back billions from the omnibus that the House and Senate passed into law. Thanks to the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, presidents can permanently cancel funding to executive agencies -- if it's within a 45-day window and if simple majority of Congress approves. Right now, that's exactly what the White House is drawing up plans to do, say officials at the Office of Management and Budget. According to administration officials, the president could ask Congress to slash as much as $60 billion from the $1.3 trillion proposal, which is a good start.

Writers at the Tennessee Star explain that the rescission concept isn't as outlandish as some are making it out to be. "If you read the leftist publications, like the Washington Post, you would think this is an obscure rule that has never been used. This is far from the truth. From 1974 to 1999, the executive branch requested $76 billion in rescissions, and Congress approved $25 billion. It is only since 2000 have Presidents resisted rescissions. President Bush barely chose to use the tactic, and Obama never used it. This gives the President and Republicans in Congress a chance for a much-needed win."

For the GOP leaders, who need to win back enthusiastic support from frustrated conservatives, this would be a good first step in what ought to be a longer-term commitment to getting the government back on track. If Republicans need help with the rest, it's time to dust off President Trump's budget proposal. Unlike the omnibus, it wouldn't have America swimming in red ink -- and would defund Planned Parenthood to boot!


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


A Pressure Cooker with Cory Booker...

April 13, 2018

If Americans weren't impressed with Mike Pompeo before yesterday's Senate hearing, they certainly were after. The CIA director did the president proud in a five-hour grilling that showed off his expertise on issues that literally circled the globe. Unfortunately for Pompeo, some liberals couldn't let go of their social extremism long enough to care.

In a surprising exchange, Pompeo found himself on the same hot seat as Russell Vought and Amy Barrett -- the two other targets of the Democrats' new religious litmus test. This time, it was Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on the table, insisting that a person's religious views somehow disqualified him from public office. Of course, the irony, Thomas Lifson points out in American Thinker, is that Booker set himself up as an advocate of religious liberty, "angrily quoting something Pompeo earlier said about the need for Muslims to speak out against jihad terror attacks." Then, within a matter of minutes, he showed what a sham that was, implying that Pompeo's own beliefs should exclude him from serving as secretary of state.

BOOKER: So, so you do not believe it's appropriate for two gay people to marry?

POMPEO: Senator, I continue to hold that view...

BOOKER: And so, people in the State Department, I've met some in Africa, [who] are married under your leadership, you do not believe that that should be allowed?"

POMPEO: I believe it's the case we have married gay couples at the CIA. You should know. I treated them with the exact same set of rights...

BOOKER: Yes or no -- do you believe gay sex is a perversion?

POMPEO: Senator, I'm going to give you the same answer I just gave you previously. My respect for every individual, regardless of sexual orientation, is the same.

Obviously, that's not the answer Booker -- or any liberal -- wants. They don't want to admit that it's possible for people of faith to have respect for everyone, while also believing in the biblical definition of marriage and sexuality. Instead, they want to marginalize an entire half of the country for sharing the same view that every secretary of state except John Kerry held when they were confirmed. In fact, most of us would argue that Pompeo's beliefs are more aligned with other countries' than Booker's!

Under Barack Obama, world leaders were furious with the way the president used the State Department to export his LGBT agenda globally. Trump's predecessor not only sent openly gay ambassadors into countries that are culturally opposed to homosexuality, they used foreign aid to bully other nations into accepting Obama's twisted agenda. He flew rainbow flags over our embassies in Muslim countries and appointed a special taxpayer-funded LGBT envoy whose sole purpose was forcing the president's radical social agenda on reluctant countries. Under both Kerry and Hillary Clinton, DOS changed the rules for same-sex diplomats and openly demonized other countries that refused to recognize homosexuality as an international "human right."

The Evangelical Association of the Caribbean was so outraged by the Obama administration's harassment that when Donald Trump was elected, church leaders across the region pleaded with Donald Trump to stop using the State Department to browbeat the world into submission on issues that are still fiercely controversial in most of the world.

"We were coerced into accepting [the administration's LGBT] agenda," Pastor Paul Mursalin told me last year, "threatening fund withdrawal and a number of other things. And our governments are under severe pressure to relent. We now see a ray of hope under President Trump and Vice President Pence, where some of this can be reversed and give us a chance to maintain our traditional conservative Christian values on the issue."

Mike Pompeo is that ray of hope. It's unfortunate that a shill for the Human Rights Campaign like Cory Booker would smear a good man simply because he disagrees on an issue that still divides most of America. "I have to wonder," Lifson writes, "if Booker would quiz a Muslim nominee for office on the topic of his religious beliefs about marriage. He seems to think you can't ask Muslims about their views on jihad terror, but it's okay to hector believing Christians on their adherence to doctrine."

The Senate's intolerants may refuse to put aside their anti-faith hostilities -- but interestingly, other corners of the Left are warming up to Pompeo at exactly the right time. Today's Washington Post surprised plenty of people when its editorial board endorsed Mike for the job, insisting that "[R]ejecting or delaying his nomination, as Mr. Trump juggles multiple crises without adequate counsel, probably would make an already parlous situation worse. Mr. Pompeo should be deployed to Foggy Bottom in the hope that he will fulfill his promise to revive and reassert U.S. diplomacy."

Join us in reminding the Senate that the Constitution rejects religious tests like Booker's. Click here to add your name to our petition.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


March Madness: Women's Group Lobbies for Sex Work

April 13, 2018

There are some issues that decent people should all agree on -- like ending child slavery or sex trafficking. Unfortunately, the Women's March (a loose collection of extremists that now act as an organization) don't share those same standards. Instead, they'd rather lobby for one of the biggest concerns of the gender they claim to represent.

A few days before President Trump signed into law one of the most popular bills of his presidency, leaders at the Women's March decided to show the world just how insincere they are about the issues facing women. To the news that one of the largest advertisers of sex slaves had been forced out of business, organizers of the march stunned the world, tweeting, "The shutting down of #Backpage is an absolute crisis for sex workers who rely on the site to safely get in touch with clients," the March claimed. "Sex workers rights are women's rights," they argued, using a charming hashtag, #SexWorkIsWork, as emphasis.

For these self-described "feminists," it was a betrayal of everything real women should stand for. An appalled Susan Wright wrote for RedState:

Women used to march for things of intellectual, real world value, like the right to vote. Now, you've got garbage pail kids like Linda Sarsour and her ilk raising a stink over the right of women to be treated as if all they have to offer the world is their genitals. Great work in moving us back centuries, everybody... Protecting exploitation sites like Backpage has nothing to do with women's rights. It has everything to do with devaluing women, endangering children, and protecting those who victimize both.

Just three days ago, President Trump signed the bill into law that would help put other websites like Backpage out of business. And instead of applauding him for what many people have called Trump's most "pro-woman policy" yet, these feminist imposters cry out for more abuse. "The organization that claims to fight oppression had nothing to say about the minors who are kidnapped and sold into sex slavery," Angela Morabito wrote for the Washington Examiner. "The issue was right there in front of them, and they decided to skip it. If the Women's March is really concerned about the welfare of sex workers, they would push for legalization of prostitution and punishment for traffickers. Instead, the organization suddenly cares about consensual prostitutes when it can spin them as victims of Trump."

I am scratching my head! When did prostitution empower and protect women? Once again, people have been deceived -- either by the culture or their own blindness -- into becoming the most vocal defenders of something so harmful to them. The abortion issue is much the same. The world has convinced women to embrace the very thing that victimizes them. Let's pray that more of them encounter Christ and find the real freedom they've been searching for.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


A Life Well Lived

April 13, 2018

I had the honor of speaking this morning at the home going celebration of Dr. Vivian Michele Jackson, the wife of my good friend Bishop Harry Jackson, one of FRC's Watchmen on the Wall leaders. I joined Dr. Bill Hamon, Bishop T.D. Jakes and others in honoring the life of Dr. Jackson, a warrior who stood by the side of her husband in both sickness and in health. As I shared this morning, I got to know her only because of my close relationship with Bishop Jackson, which would have never happened had I conformed to the popular notion that we shouldn't talk about religion and politics. It was religion and politics, which so many people claim divides us as a nation, that bridged the separation that existed between our respective communities. Harry and I spent a year together writing a book -- learning, and living that the truth of God brings people together on some of the most pressing and controversial issues of our day. Please join me in praying for Bishop Jackson, his two daughters and their entire congregation at Hope Christian Church.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.



Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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