by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Conservatives fear spending legislation that needs to pass within nine days will be stuffed with wasteful spending and policies they oppose, and that Republicans will be too distracted by impeachment to organize opposition.
Legislation must pass by Dec. 20 to avoid a government shutdown. Most of the focus during that window will be on House votes to impeach President Trump and to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal.
“There are all these shiny impeachment issues to talk about. Things are falling through the cracks,” said a person close to House Republican leadership. “If you have some pet issue that would normally be controversial among the [conservative] base, now is the time to push it through,” said a second Republican operative.
Lawmakers aren’t able to organize opposition, in part because they don’t know yet what will be in the legislation. And they may not learn some of the specifics until after a hastily unveiled bill becomes law.
“I don’t have any specifics … just rumors that these things may be littered across this massive legislation,” said Rep. Dan Bishop, a North Carolina Republican who opposes earmark spending. “You first have to identify them amid an unwieldy and large piece of legislation.”
Bishop said impeachment is an “enormous consumer” of lawmakers’ attention and that he’s concerned the bill will be “loaded up like a Christmas tree.”
Bishop said he’s also worried about policy provisions either being incorporated or extended as a bundle by the legislation when he believes they deserve individual consideration.
It’s unclear what form new spending legislation will take. It may be formulated as a continuing resolution that maintains spending levels while adding various new provisions.