No, that is not a spelling error in the title ??? Republicans are expected to be very weak this week.
The Senate will finish debating a sex trafficking bill that is hung up on an abortion related provision, then to the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General. The Senate Budget Committee is expected to mark up the FY2016 budget.
According to The Hill, ???House Republicans plan votes to establish next year’s budget and prevent cuts in Medicare physician payments in the next few weeks.??? The House will also get a budget ready for floor consideration.
One interesting development last week was the collective freak-out by the left over Sen. Tom Cotton???s (R-AR) open letter to the leaders of Iran.
According to the Cotton letter, ???under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote.??? This was the most important message in the letter.
Some libertarians were mad at Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) for signing the letter, yet he merely was standing up for the constitutional idea that treaties have to be ratified by the Senate pursuant to the Constitution.
The House is ready to steamroll conservatives yet again on ???Doc Fix,??? the rate physicians are reimbursed for Medicare services.
According to Modern Healthcare, ???a proposed congressional ???doc fix??? deal will include a permanent repeal of Medicare???s sustainable growth-rate formula a two-year extension of the Children???s Health Insurance Program with a total cost exceeding $200 billion.??? Only $70 billion is going to be offset. This is a terrible idea.
Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action for America (HAFA) told Modern Healthcare that ???any permanent solution must be financed with permanent Medicare savings, period. Americans didn’t hand Republicans a historic House majority to engage in more deficit spending and budget gimmickry.???
Matt Schuck for Human Events identified identified $46 billion that could be saved if Medicare reinstated the Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) program, and MacMillin Slobodien of Our Generation found $19 billion in annual savings for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.
Filibuster Loretta Lynch
Some conservatives are ready to toss the filibuster into the ash heap of history. Ed Whelan of National Review has called for the retention of Sen. Harry Reid???s Nuclear Option on nominations.Hugh Hewitt has gone so far as to call for the wholesale abolition of the filibuster on everything. These ideas are wrong.
The nomination of Loretta Lynch is a great case study on the fallacy of those arguments. Conservatives are not happy with many of the positions Lynch expressed at her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Her nomination is expected to be carried across the finish line with all Senate Democrats and a handful of squishy Republicans.
Whelan wrote for National Review that there is no need to reinstate the judicial filibuster because ???Republicans will already have multiple backstops against unacceptable judicial nominees.??? None of which have worked to date.
Whelan wrote: ???Senator Chuck Grassley, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, could simply deny hearings to such nominees.??? Grassley held a hearing then voted no, yet Lynch was discharged from committee. This argument has been proven wrong.
Whelan continued by arguing that the Senate Majority Leader not schedule or just vote down a controversial nomination. McConnell has scheduled a vote and David Hawkings of Roll Call estimated that Lynch is at 59 votes ??? so wrong and wrong again.
The bottom line is that the Nuclear Option should be immediately reversed.
Privacy and Freedom at Risk
Threats to the freedom of the Internet grow day by day. The government seems destined to seize control, to censor, to impede progress, and to block new technologies. In fact, the state???s growing threat to Internet freedom should be a rallying cry for all conservatives and libertarians.
When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was bullied by President Obama to enact the Orwellian sounding Net Neutrality proposal, it was just one of a growing number of efforts by multiple heads of the federal government to gain control of the last vestige of freedom ??? the Internet.
This Congress is going to have a historic opportunity to debate the 4th Amendment right to privacy in communications when Section 215 of the Patriot Act expires this June. Congress should take a hard look at ways to end NSA Spying, take another look at the USA FREEDOM Act, and hold hearings on the LEADS Act, a bill dealing with communications held abroad.
Congrats to the House Freedom Caucus
Politico reports that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Chairman of the newly formed Freedom Caucus in the House, ???has hired Steve Chartan as executive director to lead the nearly three dozen-member group.??? Chartan comes from the Senate Steering Committee run by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and will bring a great strategic mind to block bad ideas in the House.
This weak week for Republicans could get worse after they confirm a liberal Attorney General nominee and work towards passing a budget that will not balance anytime in our lifetimes.
Brian Darling is former staffer for Sen. Rand Paul and currently Sr. Vice President for Third Dimension Strategies. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHDarling