Urgency. It’s the quality most missing from within D.C. elites; the quality most necessary if the GOP gains control of both chambers of Congress on Nov. 4.
In an otherwise solid address at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, disappointed on two key fronts.
First, he did not speak to the GOP’s commitment to rebuilding the military. The speech was focused on economic recovery, but nothing can recover in an era of international instability such as we have entered. In the same way Cato the Elder’s “Carthage must be destroyed” declaration concluded all of the great Roman’s speeches whether on Carthage or aqueduct repair, “Defense comes first” should be the period at the end of every Republican address.
Also missing from the Speaker’s remarks was a crucial sense of urgency, of a commitment to acting in the new Congress with the speed that the country wants and the GOP grassroots will demand and deserve.
After the elections, the GOP will elect leadership and begin a lame duck session. It also ought to plan to present and pass through both chambers a GOP variation of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget on day one of the new Congress in January — one modified from last year’s House budget only primarily by a major increase in Pentagon spending.
This will require a new mindset from GOP Congressional leadership, a leadership used to waiting for the president’s budget and then getting around to Congressional budgeting in the spring. That schedule reflected an institutional lethargy that would be a political and policy disaster going forward. If the GOP gets the mandate it deserves, it must act with urgency, and pass the GOP budget on day one, having negotiated its particulars between House and Senate GOP in November and December.
On day two, both Houses should pass a Defense Appropriations bill adequate to the pressing needs of the Pentagon — again negotiated between House and Senate during the two months between elections and the new Congress convening — and send it to the president, defining by deeds what makes the new GOP Congress different from either divided government or the 2007 to 2010 years of Pelosi-Reid.
On day three, a border security bill should follow, one containing within it authorization and appropriations for a long, strong, double-sided border fence stretching at least half of the southern border’s 2000 miles, as well as visa reform and interior security. Section two of the bill can cover provisions for regularization of most of the illegal immigrants in the country provided those provisions are clearly and firmly contingent on completion of the thousand miles of real fencing.
Regularization of the vast majority of illegal aliens — not via citizenship but with renewable residence permits upon good behavior — is a super-majority position within the GOP, but it needs to follow a fence, not run parallel to it, or the fence will never get built and the GOP will have failed again to deliver the key outward expression of its alleged inner resolve to control our border.
With enough hard work in November and December and three days of legislating in January, the GOP can settle the issue of a “do-nothing Congress” through 2016, seize the initiative from the president, and turn to the complexities of the issues outlined Thursday by the Speaker on which there is little consensus on the details within the GOP. In the Senate, a blockade on a new Obama judge can be installed and proudly enforced from the first week forward as well.
Urgency breeding preparation, producing action in the first week of the new Congress: That isn’t too much to ask. It is in fact key to 2016 and American renewal.
This column was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com.