“Power of the Purse” Campaign Status Report

Kevin of Herd on the Hill hand-delivers our letter to Senator Harris. He also delivered our letters to Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Speier, and Sen. Feinstein.

Kevin of Herd on the Hill hand-delivers our letter to Senator Harris. He also delivered our letters to Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Speier, and Sen. Feinstein.

We ended up with 104 signatures on our “Power of the Purse” letter to our four MoC which was emailed to them and hand-delivered by Herd on the Hill. Thanks all!

Trying to figure out what's really going on in Congress from publicly-available news sources is about as reliable as using a ouija board, but as Congress wraps up its first week back from recess here's our best guess as to where the legislative appropriation-budget battles stands.

  • The general consensus seems to be that few (if any) actual appropriation bills will be passed by the September 30 deadline, so the focus now is on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government until late November or until the December recess. So for now the real battle is what will be in the CR. (This kind of omnibus CR usually weighs in at around 150-200 pages of dense legislative gobbledygook that almost no one really understands in total.)

  • Both sides say they want a “clean” CR without “poison pills.” There is no agreement on what constitutes a “poison pill.” Our Indivisible position is to oppose Republican poison pills and support necessary, reasonable, and constitutional policy provisions (which for some reason the Republicans consider to be poisonous).

  • Pelosi and Appropriations chair Lowey have the House on track completing their appropriation bills and drafting their version of the CR. The House is expected to debate (and likely pass) a CR this week. However, many of the bills the House already passed will no doubt be brought back for revision before the circus ends.

  • Trump/Republicans have submitted  21 pages of “anomalies” requests for increased funding for their policies, particularly around the border wall and immigration detention. Democrats say they are resisting. 

  • The Senate appears stymied and gridlocked, particularly over Democratic demands regarding immigration/border and reproductive rights issues. If the Senate remains gridlocked they may be forced to work off of the House CR – which would be a good thing. But Senate dawdling might be smoke-screen camouflage. It’s possible that Moscow Mitch and others in his posse of Republican cronies are meeting in secret with White House operatives and key corporate lobbyists to craft a no-one-but-us-knows-what’s-in-it backroom deal. As they have done before, they may submit it to the Republican caucus to be voted on by Republican senators only (who haven’t had a chance to study it). If a majority of the Republican senators agree, the other Republicans will meekly fall into line, and then they’ll try to ram it through the Senate with no hearings, no transparency, and no public comment. To do that, they’ll need to either end the filibuster or coerce seven Democratic Senators to their will.

  • The one bill the Senate that is moving forward on a fast track is the Defense Appropriations bill. This has been voted out of committee on a party-line vote and will probably soon go to a floor vote of the full Senate. The version passed by the Republican majority does not contain the provisions we asked for preventing Trump from stealing funds for his wall, providing oversight, or shutting down the Yemen War. It does contains funds we opposed for boondoggle F-35 fighters and B-21 bombers. So far as we know, Feinstein opposed the bill as we asked her to.

Bottom line, early indications are that reproductive-rights and immigration/border wall issues are dominating the fight. Since the Republican majority on the Supreme Court are ruling in lockstep with Trump/Republican campaign strategies, the congressional Power of the Purse looks like our only hope of resisting the worst aspects of Trump/Republican atrocities. Which means that it's more important than ever that stiffen Democratic spines and hold them.

Anna Krasner