On Tuesday night on “The Ingraham Angle,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham challenged House Republican leaders to “start really helping President Donald Trump drain the swamp” — instead of adding to it by passing their $1.3 trillion spending bill to avoid another government shutdown.
If bitterly divided Republican and Democratic lawmakers don’t reach an agreement ahead of the Friday shutdown deadline, they may be forced to pass a temporary stopgap spending measure for the sixth time in this fiscal year. In its current form, the GOP bill bolsters defense spending but doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood or sanctuary cities.
The bill also doesn’t fund construction of the new wall on the U.S. border with Mexico that was the centerpiece of Trump’s presidential campaign, although House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) told Ingraham that negotiations on the issue continue, and he expects the final version to include the needed money.
“Do you remember what Trump promised? He promised to cut spending, to defund boondoggles and, yes, to drain the swamp,” Ingraham said. “But as of tonight, it looks like the stuff that should be defunded by the Republican majority — it won’t be touched at all.”
Noting that Republicans need some Democratic votes to pass the $1.3 trillion “Freddy Krueger-like spending bill,” Ingraham lambasted Republicans for caving to “more add-ons, more giveaways, more junk, funding for big donors and other special-interest groups.”
“My friends, this is just sheer madness,” Ingraham said. “It’s time to stand on principle without fear of a government shutdown. It’s time to educate the public about how both parties got off course … You are the majority, after all. Start really helping President Trump drain the swamp. Don’t add to it.”
Scalise argued that “a number of the things that are President Trump’s priorities” already are included in the bill.
“The biggest piece of this bill by far is going to be the funding of our nation’s defense, which actually restores the ability for our country to provide for our men and women in uniform and restore a lot of the damage that Barack Obama did,” Scalise said. “So we worked closely with President Trump and Secretary [of Defense James] Mattis to give him the tools that they need.”
Scalise claimed there are “tremendous President Trump-Republican priorities in this bill,” despite the massive amount of spending.
But Ingraham was not convinced.
“So now Republicans are in charge, it’s like, ‘Well, the military needs another $300 billion and this project needs a good $20 billion here and $30 billion there.’ And all of a sudden we turn around and the Republicans are the party of big spending, Congressman,” Ingraham said.
“So how do we as conservatives hold up that mantle of fiscal responsibility, if indeed we’re blowing the budget again because we’re going to spend more money on the military?” she asked him.
Scalise said that “one of our basic functions as a government is to fund and provide for our national defense,” arguing that GOP lawmakers “shouldn’t pit fiscal discipline against providing for our nation’s defense.”
The House majority whip also questioned the Congressional Budget Office’s $1 trillion deficit estimate, because that score claims the red ink is caused by the landmark tax cuts Trump and Congress passed in December.
“I don’t agree with that, Laura, because we’re seeing economic growth,” Scalise said. “We’re going to get more money in Washington because of the tax cut bill … But ultimately, if you want to talk about what’s driving our debt, number one, I don’t think tax cuts are going blow a trillion-dollar hole in the budget.”
When Ingraham pressed Scalise on continued funding of Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities without border wall funding, she said Republicans “are in charge, and they punt it” in a manner that is “mind-boggling.”
“I share your frustration there,” Scalise admitted. “But if you look at this bill, President Trump will have the ability to defund sanctuary cities in this bill.”
Scalise said border wall funding is “something we’re negotiating in these final stages right now that hasn’t been completely released yet.” He also insisted that GOP lawmakers are “trying” to roll Planned Parenthood funding.
Ingraham retorted, “I got that, but Congressman, we have to be honest with the American people.”
“But there’s a number of other wins for the president that we have in this bill,” Scalise said. “Take a look when the final ink has dried. A lot of these projects you’re talking about — I agree with you completely on — and once this bill is done, I think you’re still going to have that ability while restoring our nation’s defense to the superiority it deserves.”