Congress and President Joe Biden face several challenges to keep the government funded and deal with four emergencies.
Congress and President Joe Biden are faced with several key decisions over the next few weeks.
One will be to find a path to keep the government funded. Another will be to deal with the four emergencies which require funding.
Ideally, both could be dealt with as a single package.
However, the complexity of the government funding issue may lead to a separate track for emergency funding.
To better understand where the American people are on emergency spending, America’s New Majority Project worked with Scott Rasmussen and RMG Research Inc to ask 1,000 registered voters from Sept. 5-6 how they felt about the various emergency aid proposals in Congress.
There is overwhelming support for designating the Maui and Florida disasters as emergencies (82 percent and 77 percent, respectively). There is weaker but still majority support for designating the Mexican border as an emergency (52 percent with 70 percent of Republicans).
Actually, spending money on these emergencies gets slightly less support (Maui 74 percent, Florida 64 percent, and the border 49 percent.
The drop in support for seeing the Mexican border as an emergency and spending money on it is a function of Democrats. Only 30 percent of Democrats consider the border an emergency, and only 35 percent of Democrats support funding it (apparently any government spending gets some automatic support from Democrats).
A bill which included aid to all three would be supported by 78 percent of the American people (including 77 percent of all Republicans, 85 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents).
Clearly, an emergency aid bill for all three would reflect the will of the American people within the Abraham Lincoln formula of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Aid to Ukraine is a harder problem.
Describing the situation in Ukraine as an emergency only gets 35 percent support (29 percent from Republicans, 44 percent from Democrats and 32 percent from independents.
Further, when asked if we should spend more money on Ukraine, support drops to 22 percent (14 percent Republican, 32 percent Democrat, 24 percent independent).
A standalone Ukraine bill would face a lot of opposition.
However, if all four emergencies are brought into one bill, more than half of the American people would support it (57 percent overall, 50 percent Republican, 72 percent Democrat, 43 percent independent).
The easiest path would be to simply fund the three domestic emergencies.
While support for Ukraine is not widely popular, there are profound reasons for stopping Vladimir Putin and the Russian attack. A victorious Russia would become an immediate menace to Poland, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and potentially Romania.
Failing to help the Ukrainian people fight for their own independence might lead to a much bigger war – and much greater American involvement in a direct war with Russia.
Given the American people’s reluctance to help Ukraine further – in general and with Republican resistance in particular – there must be some large agreement in which House Republicans gain some specific reforms as part of a package.
The best first step would be to pass the three domestic emergencies with a set of policy (and spending) reforms – then negotiate with the Senate and the White House, which are both much more eager to send American money to Ukraine.
There are three key questions in considering this strategy.
First, can the House Republicans get 218 votes for a bill that includes bold policy and spending changes to establish as a baseline of negotiating? Will Democrats from Hawaii, Florida, and Texas vote to get the money they need?
Second, if the House Republicans can’t get to 218 votes – even with tough spending and policy provisions – can a clean emergency bill for the three domestic emergencies draw enough Democrats to create a large bipartisan majority? Could this majority then negotiate for changes with the Senate and White House to get the aid to Ukraine about which they are passionate?
Third, if all four aid packages are combined (with modest but real reforms) does the House Republican conference divide so Speaker Kevin McCarthy can’t bring the bill up without permanently splitting his own conference? (This is something no Speaker I have known would ever do.)
The American people have a clear idea of what they think needs to be done. That gives the Congress a good roadmap from which to develop an emergency aid bill.
The best advice I have for Republicans follows — Remember Lincoln and listen to the American people.
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