Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee’s Grant Henry Weighs in on the Infrastructure Spending and the Use of Budget Reconciliation

Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee’s Grant Henry Weighs in on the Infrastructure Spending and the Use of Budget Reconciliation

 

Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Grassroots Engagement Director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grant Henry, who weighs in on infrastructure spending and budget reconciliation in a partisan Democratic Congress.

(Mitch McConnell clip plays)

Leahy: That’s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. I have two thoughts on his statement. First, it’s very obvious that inflation is a problem. Second, we need to have him here in the studio, and I need to give him a cup of the TriStar Trio coffee because he sounds like he’s asleep. (Laughter)

Ogles: Unlike the rant we just heard a moment ago.

Leahy: Unlike the three of us who are duly caffeinated and ready to rock and roll. Grant Henry, grassroots director for Americans for Prosperity of Tennessee. This infrastructure bill.

I can’t see any other direction – the consequence of this infrastructure bill – other than to dramatically continue the increase of inflation. What’s your thought on that?

Henry: Milton Friedman told us that inflation is essentially taxation without legislation and typically hits the lower-income individuals. Von Hayek told us that he said this: “I do not think it is an exaggeration to say history is largely a history of inflation. Usually, inflation is engineered by governments for the gain of governments.”

Leahy: Okay, now let me pause. People know who Milton Friedman is. You say it like he’s your best buddy, von Hayek, (Laughter) and he probably is your best buddy.

Friedrich von Hayek, a great, great economist. His famous work, The Road to Surfdom. That’s the guy you’re talking about there, right?

Henry: That is correct.

Leahy: And he is your best buddy.

Henry: (Laughs) Sure. Let’s say that. Let’s go with that.

Leahy: Andy Ogles, I look at what they’re trying to do, and there are a couple of elements here that really strike me. Number one, I don’t see how this is at all consistent with the American tradition of the legislative process. What’s your reaction to that, Andy?

Ogles: I mean, anytime you’re using budget reconciliation to legislate, it’s a slippery slope.

Leahy: Let’s talk about that. Explain to the audience what we mean by budget reconciliation. The Senate has a procedure by which they can essentially allocate monies and appropriated dollars for things that otherwise did not go through the normal legislative process. That’s a simplified version.

Leahy: And they’re supposed to be able to do it once, maybe twice a year, right?

Ogles: Yes. Look at legislative intent. This is something that should be done only as of the option, of last resort, and where there’s something that has to be done at the last minute. Otherwise, that could not flow through the normal process.

But what’s happened is that Congress is so partisan that it now is just the normal course of business, which is now stripping we the people of our normal representation. Because whoever is a majority controls the purse strings.

Leahy: Right. And it’s not a give-and-take legislative process. It’s my way or the highway with no give-and-take whatsoever from the Democrats. That’s what it seems like to me.

Ogles: The Senate has a lot of very formal rules that they can use, like the filibuster and things like that. And so it’s now become an issue of which side is better manipulating the rules to control what happens in the Senate.

Leahy: Grant Henry, you’re a graduate of law school, and my question to you is, the parliamentarian plays a role in the Senate.

Are you familiar with what their job is and how they can determine whether or not something should be included in this budget reconciliation process?

Henry: I’m not as familiar as I should be. And frankly speaking, I think there are very few people out there that are qualified to comment on that. There are a few.

Leahy: I may not be qualified, but I’ll comment on it. (Laughter)

Henry: But here’s what I’m saying. I think Mayor Ogles is correct that in the early 1970s we had this process of a reconciliation that was introduced primarily because we said, look, if we’re entering the day and age of partisan politics, we still have to pass a budget. We still have to spend money and make the government operate effectively or at least at all.

Leahy: This is a very interesting point because before the 70s and before the 80s, Congress ran through what they called regular order. That is, all bills would start at a subcommittee, and then they’d be vetted and then they’d to move up to a committee, and then they’d be vetted, and then they’d be going to the rules committee to see if they could go to a vote.

At each step back and forth continued, and then there would be a vote on the floor. Regular order has been disbanded by the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi in particular. And so they’re just in the land of the jam-through is what it seems like to me.

Henry: Yes. And I think that jam-through, which you really see a lot of times, is coming through this thing called the Byrd Rule, which is where this sort of parliamentarian is supposed to play a major role.

Leahy: Now the Byrd Rule, we’re talking about the former Ku Klux Klansmen, Robert Byrd, right?

Henry: I believe so.

Leahy: From West Virginia. He’s a Democrat by the way and his big ally in the Senate, Joe Biden.

Henry: So the primary thing about the reconciliation process that people need to understand and why your voice matters so much now is that the reconciliation process does not require 60 votes in the Senate. You can get it through with just 50 votes. And a Kamala Harris flip, right.

That’s the point of the reconciliation process that you don’t need bipartisan support to push something through. This Byrd Rule is a process by which Republicans should – in big air quotes in the studio here – should be able to say these certain things that are included in your $3.5 trillion package have nothing to do with what said that we’re spending money on.

That being if you’re gonna spend $3.5 trillion or rather, $500 billion on healthcare spending and call it an infrastructure spending, we’re gonna cut that out of your spending package through this Byrd Rule.

Now, much of that, I think, is left up to this sort of parliamentary procedure or that one individual to say what is and is not considered a part of the spending within that overall proposal or package.

That’s again, why I personally believe your voice matters so much now, to contact those senators, contact your legislators. Let them know if it’s this razor-thin, listen to me now more than ever.

Leahy: Andy Ogles, so there is a parliamentarian, and that recently appointed parliamentarian has ruled, that you can do it once and maybe twice, but only with certain circumstances.

What do you think Chuck Schumer is going to say if the parliamentarian says, you know what you want to do in that reconciliation package on the infrastructure bill? You can’t do it. What do you think Chuck Schumer is going to do?

Ogles: Well, just my opinion, but I don’t think they’ll care. The question is, can he move forward without an official ruling? I’m not a huge Mitch McConnell fan, I won’t go into the details. But all that to say, he has been a master of the Senate rules, which is why he’s been such an effective leader over the years.

This is where the Republicans are going to have to use the rules to their favor to try to block this, because, again, they’re not trying to pass a basic budget.

They’re not trying emergency spending for troops that are overseas or something that really necessitates this emergency action. And I think that’s really how you should look at budget reconciliation.

This is, again, the option of last resort. It should only be used where, again, you’ve hit gridlock to the point where basic functions of government are no longer working.

Leahy: The problem with that is that the Democrats have abandoned the concept of bipartisan cooperation. It’s my way or the highway.

Ogles: And they’ve abandoned the Constitution altogether. Look at what they’ve done during COVID.

Leahy: Minor point. Minor point. Actually a very good point.

Listen to the full third hour here:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star News Networks Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe Talks Biden Agenda Stall, Democrat Senate Seats, and McCarthy’s Dangerous Game

Star News Networks Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe Talks Biden Agenda Stall, Democrat Senate Seats, and McCarthy’s Dangerous Game

 

Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line  to the newsmakers line to discuss the potential stand still of Joe Biden’s agenda, jeopardized Democratic Senate seats, and Kevin McCarthy’s uncertain strategy.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line now by the very best Washington correspondent in the country, representing Star News Network and The Tennessee Star, Neil McCabe. Good morning, Neil.

McCabe: Michael, a pleasure to be with you.

Leahy: What’s been going on in Washington this past week? What kind of trouble are they cooking up for the American citizens there in Congress?

McCabe: Like I said last week, the opportunity to really move the Biden that agenda ended July third at midnight. And so now, basically, we’re sort of like in sports.

You’d call it garbage time between now and when people come home after Labor Day. And then they have to deal with the federal budget, which has also been put off.

I see nothing concrete moving on the Biden agenda, and pretty much it’s dead unless you consider some kind of push after his State of the Union address in 2022.

The problem is that Republicans are targeting 60 House Democrats. And those House Democrats are going home, and they’re finding out just how dangerous their reelection is.

And it’s going to be very, very scary for the Democrats because when these people come back to D.C. after Labor Day, they’re going to realize that Biden can’t save them, and they’re going to have to sort of figure out how do I keep my job?

It’s very scary for the Democrats. I’ll put it this way, if McCarthy flipped five seats today, he would be the Speaker of the House today.

And so he doesn’t act like somebody who’s five seats down. But when you’ve got a five-seat margin as Nancy Pelosi has, that means that she can only give five people a pass when there’s a tough vote.

When she had a 20 seat majority in the last session, that meant she could rotate around 20 people. Maybe they don’t want to take a tough gun vote.

Maybe they don’t want to take a tough tax or life vote. Now she can only rotate five people around. The Republicans should be pressing them every day.

They’re not because McCarthy just wants to run out the clock. But I don’t see anything really crazy or any of the sort of radical stuff that people were imagining would pass in January getting through any time soon.

Carmichael: When you say any time soon when they get ready to do the budget for the year, are you saying there won’t be some big package that’s passed without on the 50 vote in the Senate, deal?

What do you call that? Reconciliation? Are you saying that there will not be a big reconciliation bill, that it’ll be a continuing resolution?

McCabe: Reconciliation only matters in the Senate because you need a simple majority to pass that because it’s exempt from the filibuster rule.

And you only get one bite at the apple every fiscal year. But time is running out. The closer we get to 2022, the fewer Senate Democrats are going to want to be associated with the Biden administration program and certainly the leftists who have taken over what’s going on in the House.

So they should. And so you look at the infrastructure bill. They might not even get their own infrastructure bill through reconciliation the way things are going.

Carmichael: Well, let me ask you this. If they were to pass a tax increase that was not necessarily as big as what Biden has asked, but still big and they did it through reconciliation without a single Republican vote.

How many Democrats in the Senate who are up for re-election in 2022 would that then put at risk?

McCabe: There are three who are on the bubble right now. There are about 20 something that are actually up for reelection.

I will challenge you and say that there is almost no way Biden is raising taxes this session.

Carmichael: Okay. Now, who are the three?

McCabe: You got Hassan in New Hampshire. You have Mark Kelly in Arizona. And then you have _____ in Georgia.

Carmichael: Who would be the next two Democrats in the Senate who would put themselves at risk if they voted for a big tax increase?

McCabe: There’s a raft of them. I think that focusing on those three because remember, there are only 12 Senate Democrats who are up. And so most everyone else is sort of in a safe seat.

The problem you run into is that when you have 60 House Democrats who are under attack, there’s a lot of fundraising money that now has to be spread out on the House side. Remember, in 2018, when Paul Ryan left 40 seats unchallenged?

There were 40 different races that the Democrats didn’t have to spend a dime on. Or you take Elizabeth Warren when she ran for reelection, the Republicans didn’t give Jeff Deal a dime to run against her.

So she didn’t have to play defense one day in Massachusetts. In 2018 she was able to campaign for over 150 different Democrats 2018 because she didn’t have to play defense.

Now, the Democrats are on serious defense in 60 races and three very serious Senate races. Those three Senate races could get very expensive.

Leahy: Let me shift gears, if you don’t mind, Neil. I have an interesting question for you. Liz Cheney has decided she does not need to be a respondent to what the Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, wants.

She is actually responding to what Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker wants. The Democrat. She’s volunteered to join this January 6 select committee basically thumbing her nose at Kevin McCarthy.

My question to you is why don’t the Republicans just kick Liz Cheney out of the party so that she will not be able to participate in the GOP primary because she looks to be aligned with the Democrats, not the Republicans? What’s your thought on that?

McCabe: In British Parliament, they call that restoring the Whip when you take control of your party. Remember, Boris Johnson had his last election where he literally kicked 20 Conservative members of Parliament out of the party.

He withdrew them from the Conservative Party. And he ended up winning one of the largest parliamentary majority going back to say, Margaret Thatcher.

McCarthy was weak the first time Liz Cheney was challenged. He pretty much had no choice the second time. And now he said that he would withdraw people’s midi assignments if they agreed to participate in the January sixth Commission.

She called his bluff, and he backed down. Mccarthy’s playing a very dangerous game because he wants to ride out the clock. We are one quarter down.

He’s got three quarters to go, and he’s already in the pre-game defense. I would look at the guy named John Caico from upstate New York.

He also voted to impeach Trump. McCarthy put him in charge of negotiating a January sixth Commission. And he also put Caico in charge of the Republican responses on Russian hacking and interference in our political system.

Which, if anything, is a dog whistle to the Trump haters. And so McCarthy is playing a very dangerous game. And you pointed out with Liz Cheney, but I think it’s true with other people. He refuses to restore the Whip.

Carmichael: Who would be a better person to be leading the Republicans in the House than Kevin McCarthy?

McCabe: Jim Banks. I think you’re going to see Jim Banks as the next Speaker of the House. He’s the chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

And the Republican Study Committee is no longer sort of linked with the leadership. The Republican Study Committee is returning to its roots as the Conservative resistance to the Republican leadership.

And you could even see the Republican Study Committee and the Freedom Caucus sort of folding into each other. But I think that Banks would be someone who could do a great job.

Andy Biggs from Arizona would do a great job. There are plenty of people out there. But I don’t think he necessarily wants to.

Listen to the full third hour here:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe Answers the Question of the Day, What Is Infrastructure?

Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe Answers the Question of the Day, What Is Infrastructure?

 

Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line to weigh in on the infrastructure spending, budget reconciliation, and the filibuster.

Cunningham: Neil McCabe, who is the Washington correspondent for Star Media and probably the most connected person in Washington, D.C., is on the line with us. Neil, good morning.

McCabe: Hey. Fantastic to be with you. I hope you had a good, long weekend.

Cunningham: We did. We did. Al Gore was in town, so it was cold. (McCabe laughs) So, unfortunately, we had a cold weekend, but I actually got in the water. I stayed in about 30 seconds, and then I got out. All right, Neil, we’re going to ask you the question of the day here. What is infrastructure? (Laughter)

McCabe: What isn’t infrastructure. (Laughter)

Henry: That’s the answer.

Cunningham: What can you tell us about the huge package? I mean, he announced this week the package where he throws everything into this thing but the kitchen sink. How is this thing going to fare? Are Republicans going to stand up at all, or are they just going to pass this thing via reconciliation and it’s going to be over quickly?

McCabe: There are a number of different Republican senators that have made their way to the White House to try to cut deals, and all of them are sort of the usual suspects that you would expect, like Mitt Romney.

But also, you know, John Cornyn, I think the person to really watch is Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia. She is a full-on Trump hater. This, of course, was after the election, and she sort of played nice with Trump during his presidency. But once the results were sort of put in stone, she has come out as a full-on Trump hater.

She’s also someone who uses Paul Ryan’s fundraiser. And I wrote about this for The Tennessee Star. She is completely linked in to this GOP resistance that’s being run by Paul Ryan. And this crowd is trying to push for an infrastructure bill. And who knows what’s even in it. Republicans are saying 900 billion. And that’s, like, their compromise.

Cunningham: Yeah, thanks a lot.

McCabe: But what’s even in it, right. The only thing we know that’s not in it is a wall on the Mexican border, which was, frankly, even throughout the campaign, that’s like, the biggest applause line Trump ever had.

And so what they’re going to do is the Biden White House needs to get this thing done. And they’ve told the Republicans that they have a week to sort of get their act together. And if they want to participate in this thing, the translation is the Biden and Democrats say we’re going to pass this.

And if you want your pork projects, if you want your swimming pools, your bridges, and all this stuff for your districts and your states. If you want all your goodies and Christmas presents put into this bill, you have to get on board now.

And they think they can pass it. They might be able to do a reconciliation, but they might not. The Senate is not lock solid. It’s a 50-50 Senate. And there are Democrats who are in trouble.

Cunningham: Has Manchin come out one way or the other on the whole budget?

McCabe: Manchin is a stoic vote for the Democrats. But what he won’t do is he will not go along with the filibuster and he may not go along with reconciliation. Now they may do reconciliation with the permission of the Parliamentarian. This reconciliation rule basically makes the budget exempt from a filibuster.

And the idea is you can’t to stop the government from being shut down by a filibuster. And so you’re only supposed to have one budget a year hence, you can use reconciliation one time. And you can only use reconciliation when it deals with taxes or something connected to the budget.

This is why sometimes a tax bill can go through with reconciliation. But we saw in 2017, you can’t do a lot. It has to be kind of revenue-neutral. And so Manchin may or may not go along with this. My feeling is that Manchin will vote with the Democrats on their bills like this one.

He will not try to disrupt the rules of the Senate. You’re looking at in Arizona, you have Sinema and Mark Kelly, who may be no votes. Obviously, Hassan in New Hampshire is looking at Chris Sununu.

And you have this specter of inflation, which was like something people were whispering about. They were whispering about it six months ago, three months ago, two months ago.

Cunningham: Now it’s real.

McCabe: Now people are saying, holy mackerel, we are going to blow up this economy with inflation. And the idea that Biden just announced another six trillion dollar bill. And people are like, whoa, guy, what are you doing?

Carmichael: Neil, let me ask you a quick question. Didn’t the COVID bill the Democrats passed, didn’t they pass that with reconciliation?

McCabe: I’m not sure if they use reconciliation.

Carmichael: Well they had to because no Republicans voted for it.

McCabe: So if they did, that was their one-off. The Parliamentarian rules that you can use reconciliation twice, then basically it’s game over. Then the filibuster is over. But the specter of inflation is becoming very, very real. And for the first time, the Republicans are getting political traction against the spending, not because of the debt, but because of this inflation.

Carmichael: Neil, let me ask a question. I’m going to make a statement, and you can correct me. I was under the impression that reconciliation could be used for taxes and spending.

But if you are going to pass another bill, for example, the ProAct or the Senate version of the HR1 that requires 60 votes, but the taxes and spending did not require 60 votes that you can pass that with a majority. Am I wrong about taxes and spending?

McCabe: No, you’re absolutely right. The reason why you have this reconciliation allows for one privileged motion a year in the Senate that is not subject to filibuster. But that’s because of the need to get the budget done.

You can’t change the voting age. You can’t regulate guns or de-regulate. You can’t do gun legislation. You can’t make Puerto Rico estate using reconciliation. If it’s connected to the budget, you can use reconciliation.

But even then, there’s not a lot you can do because you have to be relatively budget neutral or revenue-neutral, which is why the 2017 tax bill was passed with reconciliation. But it couldn’t go to the far extremes, which is why they had the House bill repealing the estate tax, and Republicans put the state or death tax back in. Specifically, Mike Rounds from South Dakota, personally put the estate tax back in.

But the excuse was that we needed to push revenue back in so we can get this bill passed. Biden’s in trouble. Let me just say. And I’ve said it over and again. Biden is in trouble and he’s losing control of the Senate, but he’s also losing control of the House.

And whatever he doesn’t get done by July 4 will not get done. We’ve already crossed Memorial Day. They know that they have between now and July 4 to get something done.

Listen to the full third hour here:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.