Impeachment distracts from potential pork-filled spending bill

Steven Nelson of the Washington Examiner highlights a major piece of congressional business that’s generating concerns for fiscal conservatives.

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.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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