Democrats are “winning the narrative” and “winning their priorities” in Capitol Hill spending deals despite congressional GOP majorities and a Republican president, said Tom Van Flein, current chief of staff for Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), on Friday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour.
Van Flein, who served as Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s attorney before coming to Congress with Gosar in the 2010 Tea Party electoral victory, offered a grassroots conservative’s behind-the-scenes look at the dysfunctional congressional budget process.
Democrats’ political victories include the prioritization of a broad bipartisan push for amnesty despite Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, said Van Flein.
“Right now, for whatever reason, even though Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the presidency, we’ve been dealing with Democratic priorities,” said Van Flein. “So Democrats got a lot their spending priorities passed. … We are losing even though we’re supposedly running the show. We’re talking about immigration amnesty, not building a wall, not border security; that means they’re winning the narrative and they’re winning their priorities.”
Van Flein explained how Congress’s repeated reliance on continuing resolution-style spending bills has reinforced the political priorities of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) and the Democrat Party, despite Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress and a Republican president.
“We’ve been really running, when you do these continuing resolutions, Nancy Pelosi’s priorities since 2006,” said Van Flein. “They’ve just increased the amounts, but the priorities pretty much remain the same; that’s how a continuing resolution works.”
Representatives and senators could not have sufficiently considered Friday’s 652-page spending bill prior its passage, said Van Flein, pointing to the 18-hour window allotted for its review.
“The Senate passed this bill at 1:30 in the morning,” said Van Flein. “It is 650 pages long. It passes it at 1:30 in the morning. The House then gets it, has a couple of preliminary and procedural votes and the rules committee has to take look at it and pass it through, and at 5:30 AM – nobody is up to any good at 5:30 AM unless you’re getting up to work out — and they pass this ‘budget,’ they call it a ‘budget,’ it really is not a budget, it’s just a spending bill, a [continuing resolution], and a budget agreement, and they pass it at 5:30 AM. I’m going to challenge anyone who thinks that the Congress is doing it’s best work in the wee hours of the morning when you have septuagenarians and octogenarians up at that hour. Is anyone really understanding what they’re voting on and what is going on? Has anybody really had the time to study this? There we no hearings, there was no testimony. No amendments were allowed. … that’s what Rand Paul was mini-filibustering about was the fact that he wanted the chance to talk about this and maybe get some amendments in … [but] it takes time to do that, and they wanted to rush this because they didn’t want another shutdown.”
Assorted Republicans disingenuously posture as fiscal conservatives, said Van Flein.
“[It is] a monstrosity of a spending increase,” said Van Flein. “It’s hard to believe that Congress is controlled by supposedly fiscal conservatives when it just added approximately $300 billion in increased spending. We now have a federal debt of $20.5 trillion dollars, and supposedly, every time I see election season come around, the same Republicans that voted for this are out saying, ‘We need to shrink the size of the federal government. We need to reduce spending. Send me to Congress and I’ll fight for you.’ They come back here, and look what’s going on.”
“Dependence on Democrat support for passage of the continuing resolution in the House should worry conservatives, said Van Flein.
“There were a bunch of Republicans who voted ‘no,'” said Van Flein. “This bill would not have passed without the Democrats. … It took Democrats to pass this. Whenever leadership is relying on Democrats to pass a bill, you’re going to have many bad things in it, because they’re going to want their priorities.”
The bill passed the House with a vote of 240 to 186, with 5 abstentions. Of the 240 ‘aye’ votes, 167 were Republicans and 73 were Democrats. Of the 186 ‘no’ votes, 67 were Republicans and 119 were Democrats. Gosar voted against the spending bill.
Politicians are misrepresenting funds as allocated for “disaster relief,” said Van Flein, funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) four times what the agency requested.
“They’re throwing money at all sorts of things, and they’re calling it ‘disaster relief,’ even though FEMA said they only needed $40 billion, they’re gonna throw $160 billion at it,” said Van Flein. “If FEMA says it’s far more than what was necessary, then I don’t know what it’s really going to go to. … When it’s more than what the people in charge of the project tell you they need, then you need to ask yourself, ‘What’s really going on? Who’s really going to get that money? Why are we spending more than we need?’ That is almost the quintessential definition of wastefulness.
Van Flein echoed Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) description of the continuing resolution; the latter referring to it as “Christmas tree on steroids.”
“The question is, why don’t you listen to the agency that’s responsible for assessing the damage and for getting the repairs going?” asked Van Flein. “That’s how you know this is really just a Christmas tree at this point where people are hanging on all sorts of goodies under the guise and pretext of disaster relief. It’s obviously not disaster relief if it’s more than FEMA says is necessary.”
Friday’s passed continuing resolution is “wasteful” and a “black eye for Republicans,” said Van Flein: “As Republicans or conservatives, we’re not supposed to be wasteful with tax money. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened, last night. This is a very wasteful spending program, and it’s a black eye on the Republicans for having this pass on their watch. This is not hat they were elected to do and this is not why the taxpayers sent them back to Congress.”
Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.