America’s Enemies Win Big From McCarthy

The following is part of The Moscow Primary, and irregular series on yours truly’s speculations regarding the views of the 2024 Republican nomination contest from the most important player: the Kremlin.

As I write this, Kevin McCarthy is finally getting the votes he needs to become Speaker of the House. He may have gravely wounded national security in the process. Call the 20 formerly anti-McCarthy Republicans whatever you like – and I’m partial to Bill Bolling’s “loonie tunes” label myself. They still managed to score a major concession on behalf of the Kremlin (and other enemies of the U.S.).

Bloomberg has the details:

The emerging deal Kevin McCarthy is discussing to make him speaker of the House could make agreements on new defense spending impossible next year, at a time when the U.S. is intent on backing Ukraine against the Russian invasion and growing more wary of China’s stepped up aggression toward Taiwan.

Part of the agreement being discussed would be to cap fiscal year 2024 discretionary spending across government at 2022 levels, according to three people familiar with the discussions … including a potential $75 billion cut to national security, if not more, as defense hawks want to increase the budget above this year’s levels.

Moreover, McCarthy is promising not to accept anything from the Democratic-controlled Senate that says differently (Vox).

McCarthy’s proposal, then, is that the House would not pass any Senate appropriations bills that don’t comply with the House’s own budget resolution. That is — they’re saying Democrats must cave to their demands on spending levels. Democrats will not want to do this, so if they stick to it, it probably means a government shutdown.

To be fair, there are ways around this, either via discharge petitions or the Rules Committee. Still, 216 Republicans are now on record voting for a Speaker who wants to cut defense spending by $75 billion – in the middle of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan. Among those was Virginia’s own Jen Kiggans, who spent untold millions accusing Elaine Luria of weakening America’s military.

Irony, being dead, was not available for comment.

All kidding aside, this kind of thing is a boon to the Kremlin, which will be good news for Donald Trump in the Moscow primary. He stuck by McCarthy (as Ronald Brownstein noted) and now has something to show for it. Meanwhile, Governor Ron DeSantis, by staying silent, did himself no favors here.

In the end, Congress’ first week was a win for Trump and for his Kremlin allies. They’ll be sure to remember that.

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