GOP the party of deficit hawks? That was then.

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 1:07 AM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 1:06 AM


            House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., center, leaves the podium as he turns toward Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, left, after a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Republican-led Congress on Thursday was rounding up support for a bipartisan budget bill that would put the government on track for annual deficits topping $1 trillion, a gap last seen toward the end of Obama's first term. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., center, leaves the podium as he turns toward Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, left, after a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Republican-led Congress on Thursday was rounding up support for a bipartisan budget bill that would put the government on track for annual deficits topping $1 trillion, a gap last seen toward the end of Obama's first term. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Republicans rode the tea party wave to power eight years ago on a message of fiscal responsibility and attacking budget deficits, and kept at it during President Barack Obama's two terms. That was then.

Republican leaders early Friday rounded up support for a bipartisan budget bill putting the government on track for annual deficits topping $1 trillion, a gap last seen toward the end of Obama's first term. President Donald Trump tweeted that he had signed the bill, ending a brief federal government shutdown that occurred as lawmakers took up the measure overnight.

The projection for massive budget deficits has split Republicans. Dedicated fiscal conservatives criticized the plan while others accepted it as a necessary compromise to shore up military spending and keep the government running after a short-lived shutdown last month.

"I can't in all good honesty, in all good faith just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits," said Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican whose protest stalled the bill in the Senate Thursday night, causing the government to shut down again.

Paul was joined in opposition by others in his party, including Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Bob Corker of Tennessee.

Corker said the budget agreement was "doubling down on the irresponsible mentality in Congress of spend now, pay later. To say I am discouraged by the outcome of these negotiations would be an understatement."

Corker voted for the recent Republican tax cut after raising similar concerns in the weeks leading up to the vote.

Republicans are pinning their long-term hopes on their $1.5 trillion tax cut, which they say eventually will stimulate enough economic growth to help reduce the deficit. GOP leaders were using that argument and a desire to boost military spending to sell the budget plan. Congress needs to approve a spending bill by midnight Thursday to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Many in the GOP ranks were willing to sign on despite the soaring deficit.

"It all comes down to one thing — economic growth. That's where you take care of the debt and deficit," said Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla.

Republicans supporting the package include defense hawks who say military readiness has been harmed by years of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. The budget bill boosts defense spending by $165 billion over two years.

"If you vote no, you're voting against fixing the military," said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Conservative angst about the growing deficit was valid, he said, "but you are not going to fix them by cutting our military or by failing to provide the equipment that our troops need."

Other lawmakers cited the need to keep the government running and boost domestic spending on infrastructure and programs such as community health centers. The budget plan also was drawing support from Republicans representing states that would benefit from $89 billion in aid to speed recovery from last year's hurricanes and wildfires.

Still, some Republican lawmakers and conservative activists worried that the deal reinforces the notion that congressional Republicans are not delivering on their promises to slash spending and reduce the size of government.

Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs at Freedom Works, a conservative group that helped launch the tea party movement, said Republicans are retreating on their deficit-reduction message. The House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives that grew out of the tea party, denounced the deal for growing the size of government.

"The only folks who should be voting for this are the debt junkies, who love unsustainable spending bills," said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., a freedom caucus member.

A leader of the GOP's fiscal conservatives, Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, said he understands the frustration.

"You can make a case that it seems to be a little hypocritical because we ranted and raged during the eight years of Obama about the national debt," said Walker, who said he will vote against the budget bill. "If it's truly our core principle, it should be equal whoever is in the White House."

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House Oversight Committee launches probe into Rob Porter's employment

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 2:40 PM

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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating the White House’s employment of staff secretary Rob Porter in the wake of allegations that he abused his two ex-wives, committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, said Wednesday.

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Porter submitted his resignation Feb. 2.

Gowdy told CNN that the committee launched a probe Tuesday night into Porter’s employment and when White House officials knew about the domestic violence allegations levied against him.

Porter has denied any wrongdoing.

"We are directing inquiries to people that we think have access to information we don't have. You can call it official. You can call it unofficial,” Gowdy told CNN. “I'm going to direct questions to the FBI that I expect them to answer.”

Porter resigned Feb. 2 after his ex-wives went public with allegations of domestic abuse and said they spoke with federal authorities about the claims, prompting critics to question why he had remained employed in the Trump administration. The allegations held up a background check needed to grant Porter a security clearance for work in the White House. Officials said he was working on an interim security clearance.

The process to get Porter his clearance was ongoing at the time of his resignation.

“How do you have any job if you have credible allegations of domestic abuse?” Gowdy asked on CNN. “I am biased toward the victim.”

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Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, and his second, Jennifer Willoughby, told the FBI about the alleged domestic violence in January 2017, after they were contacted while Porter was applying for his security clearance, according to The Washington Post.

White House officials defended Porter in the immediate aftermath of the allegations, and President Donald Trump has faced criticism for what critics called his lack of care for the victims and his focus on the fact that Porter has denied the claims.

“I was surprised by (the allegations), but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him,” Trump told reporters in Washington on Friday. “He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career. … It was very said when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with White House Secretary Rob Porter (C) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) (R) as they return to the White House December 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

Holderness told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive throughout their relationship, which started in 2000, but that things escalated after they were wed in June 2003. She said Porter kicked her during their honeymoon and during a 2005 vacation in Italy, punched her in the face.

Willoughby, who married Porter in November 2009 and separated from him in early 2010, told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive.

Willoughby obtained a protective order against Porter in June 2010 after she said he violated their separation agreement and refused to leave her apartment, according to court records obtained by The Daily Mail. In the complaint, Willoughby said Porter punched in a glass door while she was locked inside the apartment, but left after he heard she was on the phone with police.

She told the Mail that in December 2010, he dragged her out of a shower while she was naked in order to yell at her.

The couple was divorced in 2013.

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File image of the American flag.
Christopher Bruno, Freeimages
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The video has received more than 3 million views.

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