October 25, 2021

If Not Now … When? Will the GOP Majority Ever Stand for Anything?

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint rose from modest South Carolina roots and a career in marketing to build and lead a resurgent conservative movement.

It is never the right time to do the right thing in Washington, D.C.

The phrase I heard most often from Republican leadership while serving in the House and Senate was, “This is not the right time to have this fight.”

Whether the issue was balancing the budget, school choice, patient-driven healthcare, eliminating earmarks, raising the debt limit, ending big, crony handouts like the Export-Import Bank or any stand against the continued growth, favoritism and intrusion of big government, conservatives were always told to wait. Wait until conservatives have the majority. Wait until we have the White House. Wait until we are reelected.

We’re seeing that “wait” attitude in practice today as the House votes on a “clean” Department of Homeland Security funding bill. Despite the fact that Republicans have majorities in both the House and the Senate that were elected on a pledge to fight against President Obama’s executive amnesty, and despite forcing through a big spending bill at the end of 2014 with the promise they would fight later on Homeland Security appropriations, they are now punting the issue entirely.

The phrase I heard most often from Republican leadership while serving in the House and Senate was, “This is not the right time to have this fight.”

On the other side of the aisle, I noticed a much different attitude, especially on big, liberal goals like government-run healthcare. Despite being faced with strong public opposition and the potential end to their political careers, the Democrats used false promises and every imaginable procedural trick to pass the government takeover of a sixth of America’s economy, along with one of the largest tax increases in our history.

Every Democrat in the House and Senate voted for Obamacare. And none of them even knew what was in it. Many have since lost their bids for reelection, but for liberals, the ends justify the means, and they are willing to accept huge political losses to advance their ideology.

Yet on the other side of the aisle—with the party that supposedly stands for individual freedom, limited government, free markets, American values and a strong defense—tomorrow never comes. Consider two major, pivotal issues in the future course of American history: Obamacare and executive amnesty.

The Republican leadership in Congress, K Street, Wall Street and all of their buddies in the media continue to rail that the conservative stand to defund Obamacare in 2013 hurt the party. But Republicans had one of their best elections in history in 2014, and one of the deciding issues in the election was repealing Obamacare.

The only evidence Republicans in Congress even had a pulse between the public lashing they received in 2012 and their overwhelming victory in 2014 was the fight they waged for a few days to defund Obamacare. And the leadership only pretended because of the pressure from conservatives who were demanding they follow through on their campaign promises.

However, there were times when I saw the Washington establishment will fight tooth and nail. They fight in bipartisan harmony against conservatives who push to eliminate earmarks.

I have seen the Washington establishment of Republicans and Democrats fight together for expensive bailouts, trillions in new debt, unfair and unaffordable amnesty, risky United Nations treaties, a misguided arms reduction treaty with Russia, a costly Internet sales tax, a new government travel promotion agency and more Washington control of education with No Child Left Behind.

I now hear some Republicans accepting and trying to “improve” Obamacare. And I see Republicans demanding that Congress fund the president’s unconstitutional executive amnesty and “move on to other things.”

What “other things” could possibly be more important than blocking the president of the United States from shredding our Constitution?

Some are saying we should leave it to the courts to decide, but Congress is a co-equal branch of government, and members all take oaths to defend the Constitution. If members believe these actions are unconstitutional, how can they in good conscience fund them?

Once the president succeeds in giving work permits, legal status, American jobs and public benefits to 5 million illegal residents, the next obvious steps will be to legalize and give voting rights to the more than 10 million illegal residents.

The only evidence Republicans in Congress even had a pulse between the public lashing they received in 2012 and their overwhelming victory in 2014 was the fight they waged for a few days to defund Obamacare.

Twenty-six states have taken a stand against the president’s action, and one federal judge has temporarily stopped the processing of work permits. But Obama’s Justice Department has demanded an expedited appeals hearing.

Do Republicans not know that funding the president’s unlawful actions now will allow the president to argue that Congress has confirmed his actions? Federal courts don’t often rule against the concerted action of the two other branches of government.

The absurdity of this situation is that fighting the president’s executive amnesty through Department of Homeland Security appropriations was the strategy created by Republican leaders.  Now that the time to fight has arrived, the generals are running from the battlefield and blaming the infantry they told to lead the charge.

If the Republican majority in both houses of Congress is not willing to take a stand and fight against the government takeover of America’s healthcare system or the president’s arrogant usurpation of the constitutional powers of Congress, then what will they fight for? Who will stand with freedom-minded Americans who sent this majority to Washington to fight for them? I hope my former colleagues will ask themselves: “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

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