Trump, GOP Leaders Seek to Quell Approps Rebellion

The president’s move to ban transgender people from the military solved one problem with House conservatives, but others remain.

A supporter of LGBT rights holds up an "equality flag" on Wednesday during an event held by Rep. Joe Kennedy.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Daniel Newhauser
Add to Briefcase
Daniel Newhauser
July 26, 2017, 8 p.m.

President Trump removed a contentious obstacle to House Republicans’ defense-spending package with his Wednesday announcement banning transgender people from serving in the military, but the measure may still have issues moving forward.

Trump announced that he would ban transgender people from serving in the military in any capacity after a House panel failed to add an amendment from Rep. Vicky Hartzler to a four-bill defense-spending package. The amendment would have barred the military from paying for gender-reassignment surgery. Its failure left some conservatives unhappy and unsure that they would vote for the defense bill.

However, Trump’s move—which is strongly opposed by Democrats and drew many critics Wednesday—removed that issue from contention among House Republicans. Particularly for social conservatives, the ban was more than what they expected and it greases the wheels for a defense package that includes funding for a border wall, a key Trump campaign promise.

“I think it goes beyond what we needed to solve the problem,” Rep. Trent Franks said. “It solves the concern that we had that somehow the military-defense bill was being used as sort of a mule for all of the left-wing social experiments that they can’t get heard any other way.”

The move from Trump comes just as Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker announced in a Wednesday meeting of the conservative group that he and Speaker Paul Ryan had struck a deal. Walker had been pushing for leadership to bring all 12 appropriations bills to the floor in a single package before the August recess. Leaders, however, maintained that they don’t have the votes to do so.

Instead, Ryan promised Walker that he will bring the House’s budget blueprint, as well as the remaining eight appropriations bills, for a House vote in September. In exchange, Walker dropped his push for an amendment to the defense package that would have brought all 12 bills forward.

The two announcements remove the largest problems facing House leaders in passing the defense bill, but there still may be some in their ranks who will vote against the bill.

Others who had been pushing for a complete slate of spending bills may still vote against the defense package, for instance. Some members of the House Freedom Caucus were pushing for votes on all 12 bills and may not want to green-light an inflated defense budget without assurances of domestic or mandatory spending cuts.

“We had almost unanimous support for the 12 appropriations bills and we do not understand the move toward the four-bill approach,” HFC member Dave Brat said. “We lose eight bills with conservative policy built in that everyone worked so hard on.”

Members of the group are also pushing an amendment that would eliminate the budget-analysis division of the Congressional Budget Office. Although the amendment is a long shot, failing to win adoption could dissuade even more Freedom Caucus members from supporting the spending package.

Still, Franks, who is also in the Freedom Caucus, said he believes that the package will pass despite some objections.

“There might be some others who vote against the package because of their very valid fiscal concerns,” he said. But he added that in his opinion, “To place the defense of this country and the fiscal survival of this country juxtaposed against one another is a terrible mistake. These are two wings of the same plane, and to lose one of them is to crash.”

Leadership has been framing the measure as a substantive win heading into the August recess: It includes $1.6 billion for the construction of a wall along the southern border, sharply increases military spending and troop pay, and even increases funding for the Capitol Police. They also note that although the bill in its current form is unlikely to become law, passing it will increase the House’s leverage heading into negotiations with the Senate because it shows that the House can actually pass their spending bills.

Rep. Charlie Dent, an appropriations cardinal whose military-construction bill is one of the measures in the package, said he believes this vote may actually do the opposite. The measure provides $621 billion in military spending, but that number is likely to fall in a deal with the Senate.

“We’re raising expectations on a bill that will never become law,” he said. “What concerns me most is all the people who are told to vote for this initial launch, for the takeoff—a large number of them will not be there for the landing, for the real bill that counts.”

The same may end up being true with the money for a border wall. Republican leaders will ultimately need Democratic votes to pass any spending bill, and Democrats are unlikely to ever support funding for a border wall. So the question remains whether Republicans are setting themselves up for a letdown by pushing for border-wall funding now if it will be stripped out of a final measure.

Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro said members of her party are also unlikely to support the bill because it raises military spending above sequestration without turning off the automatic spending caps. Doing so, she said, would trigger automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, unless Congress can agree to a bipartisan budget deal.

“This is a gimmick,” she said. “People are going to vote for a pig in a poke. They don’t know what the hell they’re voting for because the numbers are not real.”

What We're Following See More »
INDICTMENTS NOT PROOF OF COLLUSION
Rosenstein Holds Presser On Russian Indictments
2 days ago
THE DETAILS
Source:
CONTRADICTS TRUMP’S DENIALS
U.S. Indicts 13 Russian Nationals For Election Interference
2 days ago
THE LATEST

The indictment, filed in the District of Columbia, alleges that the interference began "in or around 2014," when the defendants began tracking and studying U.S. social media sites. They "created and controlled numerous Twitter accounts" and "purchased computer servers located inside the United States" to mask their identities, some of which were stolen. The interference was coordinated by election interference "specialists," and focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, immigration, and other divisive issues. "By early to mid-2016" the groups began supporting the campaign of "then-candidate Donald Trump," including by communicating with "unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign..."

Source:
“QUEEN FOR A DAY”
Gates Said to Be Finalizing a Plea Deal
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, indicating he's poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case. Gates has already spoken to Mueller's team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He's had what criminal lawyers call a 'Queen for a Day' interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors' team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed."

Source:
ZERO-FOR-TWO
Another Defeat for Immigration Legislation in the Senate
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate on Thursday rejected immigration legislation crafted by centrists in both parties after President Trump threatened to veto the bill if it made it to his desk. In a 54-45 vote, the Senate failed to advance the legislation from eight Republican, seven Democratic and one Independent senators. It needed 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle. "

Source:
DISPUTE ASSERTION OF EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE
House Intel Panel Could Charge Bannon with Contempt
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a Thursday meeting to hear testimony from Steve Bannon—but it's an open question whether President Donald Trump's former chief strategist will even show up. The White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill late Wednesday laying out its explanation for why Trump's transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege, a move intended to shield Bannon from answering questions about that time period." Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee dispute the White House's theory, and have floated charging Bannon with contempt should he refuse to appear.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login