There is an old adage in Washington that describes the political system as consisting of three political parties; Democrats, Republicans, and Appropriators. The Appropriations Subcommittee chairmen, often referred to as the “College of Cardinals,” usually agree to concoct legislation that fuses the worst elements of the evil and stupid parties, resulting in something worse than a pure Democrat proposal.
This is exactly what transpired with the so-called minibus bill. The Republican-controlled House passed an agriculture appropriations bill that breached the spending caps of their own budget, but nonetheless remained within the confines of the spending levels established under the Budget Control Act. The Senate, after failing to pass a budget for over 900 days, tacked on two other appropriations bills that funded four other departments, and sent them straight to conference committee without the House ever voting on two-thirds of the bill. They added in more food stamps spending, $2.3 billion in non-offset disaster spending, and gutted all Republican policy riders. Then the bipartisan College of Cardinals went to conference committee for a compromise. This “compromise” contained even more spending on WIC and international food aid, and added a provision, which was inserted into the conference report, to expand the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The conference report passed the House, but not after 101 Republicans opposed it, forcing leadership to coddle together a majority with 165 Democrats. Now, the venerable Cardinals are really embarrassed and are asking Boehner to reaffirm his commitment to get the collective rumps of his caucus in line. In an article titled, “Cardinals to Boehner: Crack whip,” The Hill reports on the tantrums from anonymous Republican appropriators.
Here are some of the greatest hits:
“Nobody gives their votes away here for free around here. It just strengthens the Democrats in every negotiation going forward,” said a GOP lawmaker who requested anonymity, adding that “we’ve got some people who need to learn Politics 101. It either hasn’t been explained to them or they haven’t felt the need to play team ball. We don’t discipline much around here anymore.” […]
“Hensarling votes against it, Price votes against it, two deputy whips vote against it, 101 Republicans. I mean, that’s not [Reps.] Jeff Flake [R-Ariz.] and Ron Paul [R-Texas] … and the leadership’s view is, ‘So what? We’ve got 218 with the Dems.’ Well, that’s not healthy,” a cardinal told The Hill. […]
“When I see guys at the deputy whip table not voting for it, how about a little discipline around here? When the Democrats put more votes on the floor for an agreement than we do, and we’re in the majority?” a GOP lawmaker said.
The exasperated members, who are a reliable voting bloc for leadership, have told colleagues they are “tired of it,” according to a Republican appropriator
Let’s get this straight. These guys agree to negotiate with those who never passed a budget, and gratuitously agree to a deal that House Republicans never got to amend and that is worse than the Senate version. Yet, it is House conservatives who are weakening their leverage?
It is these supercilious Cardinals who have taken the Dems off the ropes by granting them a free ride on spending and policy riders. It is these pompous members who will allow the Democrats to cut more from defense in order to pay for the higher levels of spending in the Minibus bills. The Senate is already slated to pass a defense appropriations bill that is $18 billion below the House bill in order to accommodate the extra domestic speeding. Moreover, had Republicans rolled over on the first minibus, it would have paved the road for passage of more minibus bills – bills that eliminated provisions defunding Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, but would have denied the House the ability to amend them.
I guess these conservative rebels owe the Cardinals an apology for going along with leadership’s pledge to oppose bundled appropriations bills and to downside Freddie/Fannie. They didn’t realize that you desire to use your “leverage” to bolster the agenda of the Cardinals, instead of the agenda of Republicans.