The government-funding can that Congress kicked down the road earlier this month is inexorably rolling toward the new deadlines in early March, and so far, none of the 12 appropriations bills that have to be completed have made it through both the House and the Senate. But that doesn’t seem to be a priority this week, because the House Republican majority is once more at war with itself, the Senate, and reality. The agenda for this week includes fighting over the border policy bill the Senate is preparing, fighting over a tax bill that should be a no-brainer for every member of Congress, and impeaching a cabinet secretary over nothing.
House Speaker Mike Johnson is working hard to appease both Donald Trump and the MAGA crowd in the House on the border legislation that a bipartisan group in the Senate has been working on. That’s the immigration policy changes Republicans insisted be included in a national-security supplemental funding package with aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Now that a deal on immigration—which Republicans have been claiming to be the most important policy issue of the day—is within reach, the House is rejecting it. They would rather have the issue to run on in this election than to actually do something to solve it.
That’s putting Johnson at loggerheads with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is pushing hard for some sort of deal in order to salvage assistance to Ukraine—a top priority for the Kentucky senator. Last week, Johnson said the deal is “dead on arrival,” without even seeing legislative language. And the fight has spilled over into the Senate, where hard-line MAGA members—like Ohio’s J.D. Vance, who is opposed to Ukraine aid—are lining up against McConnell.
“If you’re going to take a tough vote, you take one but you want to accomplish something. The worst of all possible worlds is you take a vote, you put a lot of political pressure on the House and you don’t get any policy accomplished,” Vance told Politico. The Senate could vote on the legislation as soon as this week.
Back in the House, there’s what should be a no-brainer tax bill on tap. But it’s got both the hard-liners and the moderates up in arms. The bill would extend the child tax credit to help more working families and reduce some business taxes. What more could you want in an election-year tax bill? Republicans are turning on each other along familiar breaklines: MAGA vs. everyone else.
The Freedom Caucus is pushing a lie that the tax credits would go to “illegal foreign nationals.” Of course, that’s not true, and even Americans for Tax Reform, a right-wing lobbying group, is saying so. They point out that anyone receiving the tax credit has to have a Social Security number, and that “There are no ‘anchor baby bonuses’ in this bill as one organization alleged.”
Meanwhile, the so-called “moderates” in the GOP conference—largely a group of New York Republicans representing swing districts—are hopping mad that their No. 1 issue isn’t included in the bill. That’s raising the SALT cap, the limit on federal deductions for state and local taxes. “There is real anger about the process,” one GOP lawmaker in the SALT Caucus told The Hill.
House moderates might unite on the other big issue in the House Homeland Security Committee: impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over nothing. Back in November, eight of them originally voted to defuse a motion from Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene of Georgia to impeach Mayorkas by instead sending it to committee. The group argued that if it was going to happen, it needed to happen through the committee process. Now that it has, they’ll probably be on board, never mind that there is absolutely no foundation for the action, and that the Senate will not vote to convict Mayorkas. It seems like this bunch of moderates figure they’ll have better luck getting reelected in their Biden districts on taxes than on bucking MAGA leadership.
Tim Miller from “The Next Level” podcast comes on to discuss Iowa, New Hampshire, and the cracks they expose in Donald Trump’s MAGA movement.