House Freedom Caucus loyalist Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) downplayed the seriousness of a possible government shutdown on Tuesday as the House’s far-right flank drags out the appropriations process, threatening to cripple hundreds of thousands of government employees and Americans who receive services from them.
“We should not fear a government shutdown,” Good told reporters during a Freedom Caucus press conference outside the Capitol Tuesday. “Most of what we do up here is bad anyway. Most of what we do up here hurts the American people… Most of the American people won’t even miss it if the government shut down temporarily.”
The Freedom Caucus — who are currently fixated on undercutting the appropriations levels House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Joe Biden agreed on during the debt ceiling negotiations — have been turning ordinarily uneventful appropriations committee meetings into battles over their party’s manufactured culture wars, abortion restrictions and various MAGA grievances.
By tacking on new riders — largely around restricting abortion access and attacking anything they like to classify as “woke” — to a handful of different bills, the MAGA Republicans are saying they hope to cut government spending to pre-COVID levels. But instead they are writing bills that are more than likely dead on arrival in the Senate, slowing down the appropriations process and getting the country one step closer to a potential government shutdown.
The fight is part of the Republican Party’s broader war against “wokeness” as it heads into another election cycle with no actual policy platform beyond grievances. And the effort has been ramped up over the last few weeks as the October 1 deadline for appropriations measures nears.
Earlier this month, MAGA House Republicans threw a wrench into the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act — the legislation that authorizes the annual budget for the U.S. military. A group of Freedom Caucus members forced votes on and successfully added amendments to the annual defense policy bill that would curtail access to abortion for military personnel as well as end diversity training and limiting funding for gender affirming surgeries and treatments. The legislation passed in the lower chamber won’t pass the Democrat-controlled Senate and senators are expected to begin working on their own version of the bill this week.
Republicans on the House Appropriations committee also stripped funding from three projects aimed at providing services to the LGBTQ+ community in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania last week as part of a Department of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations markup, leading to staunch opposition and criticism from Democrats.