With Divided Congress, A Game Of Chicken For How Aggressively Republicans Wield Power Of The Purse Begins

With Divided Congress, A Game Of Chicken For How Aggressively Republicans Wield Power Of The Purse Begins

With the Nevada Senate race called for Catherine Masto Cortez, Democrats have captured control of the U.S. Senate, with Republicans gaining control of the House of Representatives, per Decision Desk following following Rep. Kevin Kiley’s (R-CA) win. With or without the Senate, House control means that conservatives can stop many of the excesses of Joe Biden’s administration — if they are willing to use their power, according to Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX).

Congress controls the “power of the purse” — the ability to allocate how much money the executive branch gets — and Democrats cannot enact their agenda without funding. “The border crisis, vaccine mandates, the 87,000 new IRS agents, the war on reliable energy, inflation — Republicans can frankly stop all of that if they’re willing to use the power of the purse,” Roy told The Daily Wire.

The Senate proposes its own budget, and if the House and Senate’s proposals are different, they are reconciled in a budget conference. But the Senate’s version is vulnerable to a filibuster if it doesn’t have 60 votes. On top of that, the president can veto bills, including budget bills, and those vetoes can only be overridden with a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate.

All of that means that with a divided Congress, the outcome will come down to either negotiations or a game of chicken. If no compromise is reached, the agencies get no funding at all, triggering a government shutdown on October 1.

In the past, Republicans have compromised with Democrats to avoid such an outcome, afraid of the media blaming them for causing a government shutdown. But if Republicans want to win in 2024, a Republican-controlled House must insist on a conservative way of governing so that Americans can see the difference, Roy said. They should say, “we’ve proposed a full government funding … if you don’t want to sign that, Mr. President, then you are shutting down the government, not me,” he said.

In addition to controlling top-line budgets, appropriations written by Republicans can give money to agencies only on the condition that it be used for certain purposes. For example, when funding the Department of Homeland Security, Republicans could say the agency can only use its money for an approach that includes turning away or detaining every person it catches breaking the law, Roy added.

As a first order of business, Republicans will need to choose who will occupy key leadership slots. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who previously challenged Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the right for minority leader, said shortly before election night that this time, he was behind McCarthy. “The coach who gets you to the Super Bowl gets to coach the game,” he told The Daily Wire.

On Tuesday, McCarthy received the votes, 188-31, from the House Republican conference to be nominated for speaker.

The second order of business will be rolling back changes to the operations of the House of Representatives itself. Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi locked down the House buildings after the January 6, 2021 riot — blocking visitors unless they were escorted by staff, requiring congressmen to go through metal detectors, and replacing Capitol Police leadership with officials accused of overseeing the politicization of the agency. “Leader McCarthy has already indicated that the metal detectors are coming down, proxy voting is gone. It’s the people’s house,” Jordan said.

Republicans controlling the House also means they chair its committees, providing the ability to conduct oversight investigations complete with subpoena power. While in the minority, “We’ve written hundreds of letters … they give us the finger most of the time,” Jordan, a member of the House Oversight Committee who is expected to chair the House Judiciary Committee, told The Daily Wire.

Now, “we’re going to do our oversight in a way that’s consistent with the Constitution, but we’re going to be as aggressive as we possibly can because that’s what’s warranted in light of what we’ve discovered,” he said. He pointed to the politicization of law enforcement, including the FBI seizing the cell phone of Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA). Rep. James Comer (R-KY) is expected to lead the House Oversight Committee, which could pursue investigations into Hunter Biden, among others. 

Before all that, Republicans need to ensure that House Democrats don’t slip through any surprises on their way out the door, Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) said. “We also need to ensure that the outgoing Democrat Congress won’t be able to pass one final spending bill in this lame-duck session jammed with billions for their liberal priorities. Voters elected us to put a stop to the madness, and I’ll be fighting tooth and nail to stop this spending spree,” he told The Daily Wire.

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