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This Week The GOP Decides Who It Is

This week the Congress will consider another omnibus spending bill that will give the Republican establishment another opportunity to exercise its propensity for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The spending bill, slated to be an eye-popping, Obama-level $1 trillion-plus has become a catchall for practically every spending priority of the Democrats, while calls from conservatives for spending discipline and White Flag Congressconservative policy riders have been given the cold shoulder by the House and Senate leadership.

According to reporting by the Hill's Scott Wong members are frantically lobbying leadership and senior appropriators to attach hundreds of their pet priorities to the massive fiscal 2018 spending package.

Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who remained in Washington over the weekend to continue work on the omnibus, said Ryan and other leaders have instructed bipartisan appropriators to hammer out as many issues as possible but to keep them abreast of the more contentious riders.

“We’re keeping them informed — 'here are the issues, what do you want us to fight to the death on?'” Cole said. “But with some of these issues, they literally want them to be kicked up to them.”

Meaning that the final calls – as they always seem to be – will be made behind closed doors by Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Retiring RINO Rep. Charlie Dent is lobbying to loosen the rules for releasing loans from the Export – Import Bank, so that loans above $10 million can be approved without a quorum; the Bank lacks a quorum because the Senate has failed act on four of his nominees already approved by the Senate Banking Committee.

Rep. Kristi Noem, running for Governor of South Dakota, wants her online sales tax bill attached to the omnibus. Noem’s legislation, the Remote Transactions Parity Act, is backed by President Trump and would expand the authority of states to collect sales taxes on internet purchases, reports Wong.

To gain an advantage over her primary opponent, Attorney General Marty Jackley, Noem is pushing Congress to take action before the courts do; the Supreme Court next month will hear a case brought by Jackley, South Dakota vs. Wayfair Inc., that could decide whether states can compel out-of-state online retailers to collect their sales taxes.

While opposition to the Ex-Im Bank and online sales taxes have their important conservative constituencies three issues that will move votes and define the Republican Party for the 2018 midterm elections are the Second Amendment, amnesty for illegal aliens and bailing out Obamacare – again.

As the writers at Roll Call see it, the omnibus is the next opportunity for lawmakers pushing to extend protections for about 700,000 young undocumented immigrants who are shielded from deportation by the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

Senate Democrats last month killed the immigration and border security deal that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had brokered with the President. Roll Call reports, some senators want to take another shot when the omnibus comes up — potentially just a short-term extension of the DACA protections. And lawmakers on both sides have previously said they won’t support any spending bills that don’t include a DACA fix.

Besides the DACA debate, other immigration-related riders are likely to stoke a fight, says Roll Call. Those might include Democratic proposals to prohibit government use of private immigrant detention facilities or restrict funding for Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, and Republican efforts to ban so-called sanctuary cities or force the U.S. Census Bureau to inquire about citizenship status.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has demanded gun law changes as part of previous omnibus spending bills, to no avail, however, Nikolas Cruz's Valentine’s Day murders in Parkland, Florida, have breathed new life into Democrat efforts to further intrude on the Second Amendment.

For many conservatives this is THE issue that will define their motivation and enthusiasm to support Republican congressional candidates in the midterms.

Democrats are fully aware that this vote is their only point of leverage in the debate, and Washington Post reporter Amber Phillips claims they've got to play hardball to try to extract as much as they can from it.

The Post's Ed O'Keefe reported Democrats are working with gun-control groups to find a way to politicize this whole issue to their advantage in November's midterm elections.

So, the Democrats don’t really want to do anything that will help identify and stop troubled people from killing, they want to milk these tragedies for political advantage.

Interestingly, perhaps as a ploy to develop a “do-nothing Congress” line of attack for the midterms, Democrats appear to be backing off putting more Second Amendment intrusions in the omnibus, it’s Republicans conservatives must worry about.

“Knowing where [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell is and [Speaker Paul D.] Ryan is, I think the omnibus is not going to be the way to do it,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Tuesday.

The New York Democrat referenced the March 24 rally in Washington that students are organizing to push action on gun control as a leverage point.

“We will try to force floor action after that rally,” Schumer said, according to Roll Call.

Meanwhile, last Tuesday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent a memo to members of the House GOP conference announcing that the House would take up at least one gun-related bill next week – a plan to spend some $50 million on “school safety.”

If not included in the omnibus, this bill is presumed to be the focus of any anti-Second Amendment slight-of-hand that the GOP leadership plans, especially as it relates to the “Fix NICS” bill.

The final defining item that may sneak into the omnibus is another Obamacare bailout. Democrats have been pushing for ObamaCare cost sharing reduction payments and reinsurance funding for months. RINO Senators Lamar Alexander (TN) and Susan Collins (ME) have also been pushing for the funding.

A coalition of health care providers and insurers has added lobbying heft by calling on House and Senate leaders to include additional funding for ObamaCare programs in the upcoming omnibus package to fund the government.

Fortunately, conservatives in the House there are dead-set against anything they consider a “bailout” of health insurance companies.

Unfortunately, resistance among top House Republicans to the stability funding appears to be lessening, but rank-and-file conservatives have remained unmoved.

Many electorally vulnerable House Republicans are supporting the payments, reports The Hill’s Peter Sullivan, and some observers note that without the money, Republicans could be blamed for premium increases announced in October, a month before the midterm elections.

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said that he expects the controversial Obamacare payments aimed at stabilizing markets to be included in the omnibus government funding bill, which must pass by March 23 to avoid a shutdown.

And the bad news is, as Nathaniel Weixel reported for The Hill, the omnibus may not need conservative support to pass the House. Some Democrats are expected to support the bill, as it will be the byproduct of a bipartisan spending deal reached last month.

Optimistic conservatives look to the omnibus as an opportunity to restrict Obamacare payments for abortion, defund Planned Parenthood and accomplish a host of other conservative policy goals, but from our experience, the Capitol Hill GOP leadership has no intention of defining the Republican Party as the Party of lower spending, the Second Amendment, immigration enforcement and ending Obamacare welfare – it is much more likely to, once again, join the Democrats as the party of gun control, amnesty, big spending and big government.

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fiscal irresponsibility

I am infuriated with the continuing fiscal irresponsibility of our houses of congress. Where is the so-called Republican Conservatism? Do these profligate morons run their own households the same way they waste "we the people's" money? At least half of the congress should be recalled and replaced with members who know what a BUDGET is. 21 1/2 TRILLION and climbing is NOT fiscal responsibility as it saddles future generations with un - reducible debt and incomprehensible inflation. They (congress) is pushing the country into third world status with their "buy now, pay later" ignorant programs.