The Forgotten Leverage U.S. House Republicans Can Wield to Shut Down Weaponized Government

Written by Daniel Horowitz

Have you ever wondered why we are stuck with terrible government policies, programs, and agencies indefinitely with no ability to repeal or reform them? After all, seldom do we ever get enough support in all three branches of government to do the right thing. In reality, our political leaders who came before us weren’t as flawed as we think. Most critical functions of government, indeed, are not on autopilot. They expire every few years and are subject to reauthorization. If Republicans only used their leverage to hold up those reauthorization bills, they could fight odious policies in each critical area of government. Why have they not done so yet?

As we’ve noted before, it takes all three branches of government to repeal a bad law, but it only takes one branch of government to hold up the budget as leverage against policies. To that end, I’ve outlined a list of priorities Republicans should demand in exchange for passing a budget. After all, Joe Biden needs all three branches to pass a budget for his government to operate. However, in addition to the budget, Biden needs the GOP-controlled U.S. House to reauthorize a number of expiring programs and agencies in order for him to continue using them against us. Republicans can simply refuse to reauthorize those programs absent reforms. This power is tied into the budget leverage but is also somewhat distinct.

Every year or every five years, thousands of our government programs are subject to reauthorization. As U.S. Representative Ken Buck (R-CO) recently observed, there are over 1,100 government programs that are currently “unauthorized,” yet Congress continues to fund them. These programs completely sunset without the proper committee authorizing them and both houses of Congress agreeing to pass the bill. These could include entire spending programs or full agencies, for example the FBI itself. Because of a lack of time and a lack of courage, Congress has allowed a lot of these programs to lapse for many years, but they still function because lawmakers appropriate funding without an authorization.

To continue appropriations for unauthorized programs requires that the committee chair of the relevant authorizing committee (Judiciary, for the FBI, for example) to sign a waiver allowing the appropriations committee to appropriate funding without a formal authorization. That practice needs to come to an end. Ending it would make many critical parts of government sunset, thereby giving House conservatives leverage to force reforms because the default will be zero authorization of funding.

For example, here are some of the critical authorizations that lapse come midnight on Sept. 30 – less than three months away:

  • The FBI
  • All agriculture and nutrition programs (Farm Bill)
  • TANF cash welfare program
  • The FAA
  • FISA
  • The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPA)
  • The Coast Guard

Some programs run on annual authorizations, while others run on two-, three-, or five-year sunsets. For this coming fiscal year, the CBO has identified over $1 trillion in programs slated for appropriations that have not yet been reauthorized for next year.

The U.S. House GOP is the only group that has the ability to pass a bill without support from the other party. U.S. House Republicans have the leverage to pass each one of these bills with the preferred reforms and dare the Democrats to oppose them. For example, they could choose to only reauthorize the FBI with provisions clearly defunding notorious political targeting. They can pass a reauthorization for PAHPA only with the dozen or so medical freedom reforms I laid out earlier this year. They could ban all transgender activities within the Coast Guard as a condition for authorization.

Obviously, the reauthorization expiration ultimately rolls into the same Sept. 30 deadline as the overall appropriations bill at the end of the fiscal year, but they provide us with another layer of leverage.

Let’s say Speaker Kevin McCarthy still (R-CA) wants to fund all these agencies without reforms. Members of the Rules Committee can raise a budget point of order against any program that has not been authorized, thereby derailing its consideration on the floor. Furthermore, committee chairmen should be encouraged not to offer waiver authority to some of these programs. For example, U.S. Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, should refuse to grant a waiver for the FBI to be funded at the beginning of the fiscal year unless there are some ironclad commitments on policy changes. U.S. Representative Sam Graves (R-MO), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, can refuse to authorize the FAA without a permanent ban on mask mandates.

Even if the authorizing committee chairs or the Rules Committee members decline to raise this point of order, it can still be attacked on the floor. Clause 2 of Rule XXI of House rules adopted for this session (only this year) allows any individual member to enforce the prohibition on appropriating funds for unauthorized programs with a point of order. So, for example, let’s say there are no meaningful reforms or cuts to the FBI in the funding bill for fiscal year 2024. Any Freedom Caucus member could raise a point of order and force members to go on record as sustaining that weaponized agency without reauthorization. The FBI hasn’t been authorized in a stand-alone bill for years. It is operating from a provision stuck into the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, but is slated to expire at the end of the fiscal year.

As such, Republicans cannot claim to be helpless for lack of political power. So long as it’s a winning issue and they have the truth on their side, to continue funding all areas of woke and weaponized government this coming year – without meaningful reforms to some areas – would reflect a failure in political will, not political power.

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of TheBlaze and host of the Conservative Review podcast. He writes on the most decisive battleground issues of our times, including the theft of American sovereignty through illegal immigration, the theft of American liberty through tyranny, and the theft of American law and order through criminal justice “reform.”