Salvo 05.28.2024 5 minutes

Sabotage Trump 2.0

Closing Arguments Begin In Former President Donald Trump’s Hush Money Trial

The far-reaching strategy relies on a weak GOP.

Editors’ Note

This article was originally published at The Blaze. Click here to sign up to get Blaze Media senior politics editor Christopher Bedford’s newsletter, which launches later this spring.

Word began to spread Monday evening around dinnertime: A House bill would be going to the floor Tuesday morning, designed to stop a returning Trump Administration from reinstating his 11th-hour attempt to set architectural standards for federal buildings.

The bill was defeated at the last minute by a network of activists and sympathetic politicians but represented a broader shift in D.C. political strategy: As concerns mount that President Joe Biden might lose re-election, Democrats in the White House and Congress have worked to sabotage and hamstring a returning Donald Trump on issues from immigration and foreign policy to spending and classical architecture.

Most of the Democrats’ plans are eminently stoppable, but stopping them will mean someone has to stay awake on the Republicans’ political picket line—and more, Republicans need to be willing to fight when the picket’s alarm is raised.

The author of the aborted bill, Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), is a longtime champion for the modern architects who make a killing using taxpayer dollars to build ugly buildings taxpayers (and the poor people required to work in them) cannot stand. She’s been an enemy of any attempt to put reasonable, classical parameters around expensive civic architecture ever since a draft of President Trump’s end-of-term executive order, “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again.”

Her latest attempt would have forced the next administration to compile a report on all the public comments before trying to reinstate standards of beauty again. The wording seemed innocuous enough, and leadership staff unfamiliar with her repeated attempts to thwart the Republican presidential nominee clearly didn’t notice it. If the bill had passed, it would have gummed up the systems, slowing and tying down any attempts to get reform past the well-organized modernist lobbies.

And it might have passed, too, if not for a retired senior House staffer who noticed the bill on the schedule. The retiree emailed National Civic Art Society President Justin Shubow, who quickly made a flurry of phone calls, along with texts and emails, working to activate the political network he’d helped build to formulate and push Trump’s original executive order (and subsequent legislative efforts) to make “federal buildings beautiful again.”

By 8:40 p.m., Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) was posting a rallying cry, and by the start of the next day, Republican members across the caucus had begun to track the bill. By 10:30 a.m., the speaker’s office had pulled the vote.

Speaker Mike Johnson’s office didn’t provide any further details on how a Democrat-sponsored booby trap got scheduled for a vote, and that’s just one of Democrats’ many plans to tie a new Trump administration’s hands in its critical first year of office.

“Democrats know that Joe Biden’s days are numbered, so they’re trying to sneak roadblocks to the Trump agenda through the House,” Banks told Blaze News. “President Trump didn’t have GOP leaders that were willing to fight for his agenda in 2016. He deserves them during his second term.”

Democrats’ top objective is a massive omnibus that will appropriate money from the final three months of 2024 through the first nine months of 2025. If successful, Democrats would pre-empt Trump from cutting off or redirecting resources to and from things like the United Nations, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the border.

Republican war hawks are incentivized to abet the Democrats’ scheme to guarantee more funding for the faltering war in Ukraine. Just days after Congress voted in April to send $60 billion to Kyiv, news leaked that lawmakers were already looking at sending even more U.S. tax dollars this fall. If they are serious, they’ll need Democrats’ votes.

Republican Russia hawks also know that money appropriated for the war will stymie any draw-down efforts by the next administration, locking Ukraine policy into place for whomever occupies the White House. Remember: Trump was once impeached for freezing funds Congress appropriated for Ukraine. Keep an eye out for this and other impeachment traps in any overstuffed spending bill.

The recently reintroduced border bill represents another sabotage attempt. If it fails (as it’s expected to), it’s a messaging bill for vulnerable congressional Democrats facing re-election. If it succeeds, it will bind the next administration’s hands on aspects of border security and enforcement as well as on sanctuary rules. Thanks to Kentucky’s own Sen. Mitch McConnell, this effort now has Republican fingerprints on it.

The White House is doing its part, too. In April, Biden issued an executive order making it harder to fire federal employees. What public constituency does this serve but those federal employees who would work against a Republican president’s agenda? If Democrats and Republican hawks get their omnibus, keep an eye out for a congressional seal on this order.

The obvious way out of this is to pass a “clean continuing resolution,” or six-month spending bill without any special riders or add-ons that keeps the government functioning into March. This would give a potential Trump Administration three months to set its agenda but would also mean Republicans would have to get to work now negotiating appropriations to have them ready in time. That’s a lot to ask in Washington.

“All the work on appropriations should and can be done now over the next several months,” a senior GOP staffer told Blaze News. “You just dust off the GOP bills and reintroduce them in January.”

“You are going to hear nonstop how important it is to ‘clear the decks’ for Trump over the next several months,” Center for Renewing America head and former Office of Management and Budget director Russ Vought tweeted May 13.

Any attempt to get the hard work of 2025’s budget done before Trump were to take office, Vought warned, would mean trouble. “The cavalry must be given the time to arrive. This will be a central fight over the next few months and at every turn, just remember: clear the decks means screw Trump.”

What happens next will ultimately come down to the will of Mike Johnson (R-La.).

“What is he willing to do,” the senior Republican staffer asked, “to stop Dems from pre-emptively screwing Donald J. Trump?”

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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