Freedom Caucus already sets demands for Harvey aid

An ominous sign possibly presaging a struggle with Congress passing an administration supplemental budget request for aid to Texas over Hurricane Harvey damages and recovery.


This may seem an arcane point to people living free of legislative mind-blinders. But it certainly contradicts these past years of talk about how much Republicans could get done if they controlled both houses of Congress and only got the White House too.

Well, now they have it all. Yet, they still squabble over ideological notations on what to do.

Perhaps you’ve noticed in all these orchestrated public appearances by President Trump, Vice President Pence, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other officials how everyone promises full-blown help and prompt passage of an immense aid package for Texans.

Pence told Texans Thursday, “We are with you today. We will be with you tomorrow. And we will be with you every day until this great state and these great communities recover and rebuild to be even better and stronger than ever before.”

Wait just one cotton-picking minute, pipes up Rep. Mark Meadows. He’s a North Carolina Republican who’s also chairman of the so-called Freedom Caucus. He says Harvey aid is important and all. But with the tunneled mind of a House member, Meadows says it needs to come through the legislative process as a stand-alone clean bill, not tacked on as a sweetener to the must-pass debt ceiling bill.

Meadows says that’s “conflating two very different issues” and wouldn’t be “appropriate.”


What that actually translates into, for those a little rusty on their legis-speak, is: “Everyone has to vote for Harvey aid, but we’re gonna create lots of problems over raising the debt ceiling and don’t want to get blamed for obstructing aid to already battered disaster victims.”

There’s likely not one single disaster victim in Texas or Louisiana or any other place in the path of major storms who gives a flying fig what kind of bill — clean, dirty, bundled — their aid comes packaged in as long as it comes and comes quickly as the mold grows up their soaked drywalls.

Meadows, you may remember, was the GOP caucus chair who lead opposition to several versions of ObamaCare repeal back in March that began the process of dooming the idea altogether on Capitol Hill.

Now, it’s clear, Meadows and crowd want the debt-ceiling hike to be a clean bill — wait for it — so they can attach to the must-have document their own measures to limit and control future federal spending.

Which helps explain why the current job approval rating of Congress is less than half the president’s own depressed rating.

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