The “Biden 18,” those House Republicans representing districts that voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, are getting a lot more vocal about the terrible bills their leadership is forcing them to vote on. That bitching has increased since the Democrats’ big wins in Tuesday’s elections.
It came to a head Thursday when leadership was forced to pull the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill, which includes funding for Washington, D.C., and included a repeal of the city’s Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who get abortions or use contraception. And the moderates are broadcasting their objections to the media.
“The fact that the FSGG bill includes a repeal of the city of Washington, DC's policy causes a lot of concerns,” Rep. Marc Molinaro of New York told Axios. Rep. John Duarte of California added that the larger group opposing the bill is ”just sick of every appropriations bill being a vehicle for some off the wall abortion policy.”
But it wasn’t until after the House Freedom Caucus and Rep. Matt Gaetz started raising hell about the bill that it got pulled. They were mad in part because some of their dozens of obnoxious amendments were defeated. Let me repeat that: They weren’t opposing the bill because they were denied a chance to offer amendments. They had this tantrum because their amendments were voted on and rejected—and because they hate democracy.
Until those objections started coming in, House Speaker Mike Johnson and his leadership team still intended to vote on the appropriations bill Thursday morning, hoping that there would be enough Democratic absences for it to squeak through. It wasn’t until the Freedom Caucus came out in opposition that they decided to pull the bill.
That tells you who’s still running the House. Republican leadership was happy to play chicken with the moderates and force them to vote on a damaging bill because the moderates will always fold—and then complain about it. “What bothers us with the [spending bills] that are left … is that they’ll never look like that when they’re done,” Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska told Politico, meaning the bills won’t survive the Senate as written. “So they make us take votes that don’t make sense, right?”
That’s exactly what will happen. Every time. They can keep bitching about it, or they can do something, like start working with Democrats. Now would be a great time to do it, in order to stave off a government shutdown. By all accounts, Johnson will once again cater to the maniacs and waste the week leading up to a shutdown on their harebrained “laddered” continuing resolution, which is dead on arrival in the Senate.
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries has made it clear that there’s only one option for garnering Democratic votes: “We will only accept a clean continuing resolution that maintains the status quo to allow for continued negotiations around reaching a year end spending agreement, consistent with the bipartisan fiscal responsibility act that Republicans themselves negotiated.” That’s what will pass most easily in the Senate, too.
As a bloc with large enough numbers to affect a vote, that’s what the Biden 18 could demand as well, and they’d probably get dozens more Republican votes. They just need to find the nerve to do it.
Just one word explains why Democrats had such a massive election night on Tuesday: abortion. On the newest episode of The Downballot, co-hosts David Nir and David Beard recap all the top races through the lens of reproductive rights, which continue to motivate Democrats and even win over a key swath of Republican voters. Nowhere was that more evident than in Ohio, which voted to enshrine the right to an abortion into the state constitution by a double-digit margin, despite countless GOP attempts to derail the effort.