Senate Dems Abandon the Fund-amentals

Senate Dems Abandon the Fund-amentals

October 21, 2021

After an eight-month partisan slugfest over everything from COVID "relief" to human infrastructure bills, you'd think the Hill's Democrats would be ready to drop the pugil sticks and try a little bipartisanship. Think again. When Senate leaders put their appropriations cards on the table this week, conservatives couldn't believe what they saw -- another one-sided bundle of spending plans that wasn't even a half-hearted attempt at compromise. Like everything else Joe Biden's party is selling these days, it's a radical departure from where Democrats stood even 12 months ago. But if it's a fight they want, Republicans say -- it's a fight they'll get.

Anyone who's flipped through the proposals to the government's commerce, defense, financial services, homeland security, labor, interior, legislative branch, foreign operations, and transportation agencies knows the package won't pass. Apart from abandoning the middle ground on the plan's cost, Democrats are staking out a completely unreasonable position on abortion that's alienating even their own caucus. That doesn't seem to matter to the Senate fringe, who, for the first time in 40 years, offered a plan completely devoid of the Hyde amendment which keeps taxpayers out of the abortion business and other long-standing abortion truces.

Most of the people watching the debate unfold are baffled. With only a handful of legislative weeks left on the calendar, and a government shutdown looming on the horizon in December, Democrats can't afford to be playing messaging games with a must-pass bill. "I think it's going to be very, very difficult for them," Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said on "Washington Watch." Unlike the colossal $3.5 trillion dollar reconciliation plan Joe Biden is pushing, the appropriations bills need 60 votes -- an impossibility for a party that still has a few holdouts on taxpayer-funded abortion.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D), who's been one of the only things standing between the extremist Left and America's complete moral implosion, made it quite clear that without Hyde, any bill is a nonstarter. As far as he's concerned, this four-decade compromise is "a red line," and any plan that comes to him without it would be "dead on arrival." After all, it wasn't that long ago that even Joe Biden supported a ban on taxpayer-funded abortion. In fact, stripping it from legislation was a bridge that even his old boss, Barack Obama, wouldn't cross.

Those reservations flew out the window this week when Democrats, who can barely stick together for a bill that needs 50 votes, decided to steer the chamber (and their caucus) toward another head-on collision. As the Hill pointed out, the spending package already faced a "tough road notching the necessary 60 votes for passage," thanks to provisions on climate change, extreme changes to education funding, socialist health care tweaks, money for Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups, and another raise for the controversial "Violence Against Women Act."

And they knew better than to push this agenda, Daines said. "After the election, I led a letter and had 47 Republicans sign it that said: if the Hyde protections are removed, this bill is dead on arrival." That's never been controversial, he insisted. Now, Democrats are unleashing this "blatant attack on life and taxpayers, [and it's] a purely partisan effort" -- which, oh-by-the-way, isn't going anywhere. It's just another love letter to the Left's radical base that's wasting Senate time and money.

On top of the national (and international) abortion concerns, FRC is sounding the alarm about the threat to religious freedom too. In the Health and Human Services proposal, there's new language that would ban HHS from funding any organization -- including child welfare and foster care groups -- that don't agree with the Biden administration's radical redefinition of gender and sexuality. In other words, it basically disqualifies any Bible-believing ministry from partnering with the government to help children.

That's not likely to grease a deal's wheels on an already short timetable. Instead, Budget Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) argued, it's "a significant step in the wrong direction." "Their bills are filled with poison pills... on topics like terrorism, abortion, and immigration that for years have enjoyed broad support on both sides of the aisle." If Democrats want to keep the lights on for the next year, he argued, they'll have to "abandon this go-it-alone strategy and come to the table to negotiate. The clock is ticking."

And more than that, lives are on the line. Make sure you contact your senators and remind them that the Hyde, Weldon, Dornan, and other pro-life protections are non-negotiable. American taxpayers shouldn't be unwilling partners in the Left's killing culture -- here or abroad.

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

All Action on the Southern Front

October 21, 2021

Washington leaks more than the southern border -- and that's proving to be an embarrassment to the Biden administration. The Washington Post obtained unpublished data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) showing a record 1.66 million persons were arrested at the border with Mexico during the 2021 fiscal year that ended in September. Only one year since 2010 saw more than 500,000 arrests at the border, and the most recent anywhere close to 2021 was all the way back in 2000, which previously held the arrests record with 1.64 million.

In March, President Biden promised Americans that a surge in border arrests was merely a seasonal fluctuation. But during the first nine months of his presidency, 1.3 million arrests were made, with highest figures coinciding with the hottest summer months (over 200,000 arrests each for July and August). In contrast, "we had a very secure border in 2019 and 2020," said former Acting Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf on "Washington Watch."

"The Biden administration's policies have led us to the place that we're at today," Wolf continued. He said President Biden eliminated the most successful policies "on day one of this administration," including construction on the border fence and the Remain in Mexico policy. President Biden's pick to head the CBP, Chris Magnus, was forced to agree. When asked by Texas Senator John Cornyn (R) whether "a policy of non-enforcement is a pull factor, which is encouraging more illegal immigration," he at first attempted a non-answer, but at last admitted, "it is certainly one part of it, yes sir."

With the release of these record-breaking numbers, the Biden administration's best efforts to hide the truth have failed. Months ago, they began bussing migrants out from overcrowded holding facilities in the middle of the night. Now, they have moved out of bus range and have begun flying migrants out to destinations like New York -- again in the middle of the night.

But a troubling number of migrants remain. Border patrol agents have been pulled off patrols and "pulled into Border Patrol facilities, and other facilities, to babysit," said Wolf. He warned that those who cross the border and elude capture -- the "got-aways" -- pose a far greater threat than those who are arrested. Using camera and radar feeds, footprints, and other methods, CBP also estimates "got-aways" for fiscal year 2021 at 400,000. That number includes a sharp rise in September as agents were distracted with managing crisis-levels of migrants.

The "got-aways" pose a greater threat because they are the ones with "the means to pay the cartels more," explained Wolf. "Those are probably the criminals," including "MS-13 members," "known or suspected terrorists," or those "on a watch list." They are the ones importing violence and drugs. In contrast, "a lot of families that you see and minors that you see actually seek out Border Patrol agents because they know that they'll be taken care of."

The question many are now asking has the Biden administration realized the benefits of a firmer hand. The administration has indicated it's open to restoring the Trump Remain in Mexico policy (after a judge ordered them to do so). Wolf, however, remains skeptical, noting that the administration has also "actually filed a policy memorandum to kill the program."

It's hard to say whether the Biden administration has learned the lessons from a year of failed border policy. But we at Family Research Council will keep watching them and keep you informed.

Biden's 'Build Back Better' Plan Includes Radical Goodie Bag

October 21, 2021

If passed, Congress's hyper-partisan reconciliation bill would force Americans to pay for the Left's favorite policies surrounding environmental law, labor law, and illegal immigration. It also includes provisions that will empower the partisan IRS to get even more involved in the lives of ordinary Americans.

Democrat Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) has openly admitted that "the Green New Deal is in the DNA of this green budget resolution," and he's not wrong: This bill would force Americans to get 40 percent of their energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources within eight years, specifically including a methane tax and a tax on natural gas up to $1,500 per ton. This could cost nearly 90,000 American jobs and dramatically increase the cost of heating and powering homes.

This bill targets schools, requiring funding for school construction to be used on a Green New Deal agenda including a $10 billion "environmental justice" fund for higher education. Another $8 billion provision would create a Climate Conservation Corps with the task of pushing far-left climate policies and programs.

This bill's environmental policies favor the wealthy, too, with $222 billion in tax credits going to pay for electric vehicles that typically only the rich can afford. The bill goes further, mandating the conversion of the entire federal fleet from combustion engines to electric engines, and targets states as well: it punishes states that don't meet its green climate standards and rewards those that do with $4 billion in climate grants.

The reconciliation bill's labor policies are just as bad. It increases the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's penalties on businesses that fail to implement the vaccine mandate up to $700,000 per violation and includes $2.6 billion in funding for Department of Labor enforcement of these mandates, furthering the left's authoritarian agenda of forcing the COVID-19 vaccines on all Americans.

The bill also favors union bosses and the progressive agenda over American workers. It strengthens the influence of union bosses by subsidizing union dues, which is especially concerning as unions have largely abandoned the American workforce when it comes to company-wide vaccine mandates, as seen with Southwest and other transportation workers. The bill also takes a side in union disputes, subjecting employers to penalties that exempt union bosses and officials.

Regarding immigration, the first drafts included a sweeping provision which would grant amnesty to around 8 million illegal immigrants. Trillions more would have to be spent on Social Security and Medicare if this many immigrants were suddenly granted amnesty. Thankfully, the Senate parliamentarian has ruled twice against Democratic attempts to include the amnesty provisions in reconciliation since it is extraneous to the spending provisions in a budget bill. This is in violation of the Byrd Rule which governs what is allowed through the reconciliation process. However, Democrats have a "Plan C" which would expand temporary legal status and work permits to illegal immigrants, though it doesn't technically allow them amnesty.

With or without amnesty, though, the bill still incentivizes illegal immigration, making illegal immigrants eligible for free community college entitlement, additional student aid and the enhanced Child Tax Credit. It also relaxes the rules of when immigration is and is not granted at the border, and even allows the Department of Homeland Security to waive previous convictions for human trafficking, narcotics violations, and illegal voting for those seeking to receive citizenship status.

Finally, the reconciliation bill increases funding to the IRS by $79 billion for the enforcement of tax laws. These funds will only allow the IRS to become more partisan, and it's safe to assume on which side of the aisle the IRS will fall: against conservatives -- the same place it did under Barack Obama.