With the clock ticking closer to the Sept. 30 government funding deadline, the conservative House Freedom Caucus this week outlined its official position on Washington’s latest spending debate.
Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., a member of the Freedom Caucus, spoke to The Daily Signal about why conservatives are insisting House Republicans honor their promise to reduce government spending while also enacting three policies:
- Securing the border
- Ending the weaponization of DOJ and FBI
- Stopping the Defense Department‘s woke agenda
Good, who represents Virginia’s 5th District, explains what’s at stake and why conservatives should make this their priority.
Listen to the full interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast” or read a lightly edited transcript below.
Rob Bluey: Let’s start with the big question on people’s minds, which is, will the government shut down after Sept. 30? The Freedom Caucus put out a list of principles, which to most conservatives are reasonable things they expect Washington to accomplish. Can you walk us through what those are?
Good: Yes. The Freedom Caucus put out a position essentially saying we are committed to the spending cuts that were part of Limit, Save, Grow, which, as you might know, originated as Shrink Washington, Grow America.
That was a Freedom Caucus position we put out before it was largely adopted by the House, which was a reasonable bill that had significant cuts and reforms to take a significant step toward fiscal stability that was passed with 217 votes out of the House.
It was a strong Republican coalition, but as you also know, most of that was discarded or set aside or jettisoned for the terrible, what I called the “Failed Responsibility Act” that was struck between House and Senate and White House leadership, or lack thereof, perhaps you might say.
We are committed to going back to the pre-COVID spending level for nondefense discretionary that the speaker agreed to in order to become speaker back in January.
And also, as you know, after the debt ceiling caught so much criticism from conservatives—some of us in the House and then conservatives like yourself across the country—the speaker said, well, the debt ceiling levels, or of course it was an unlimited increase of debt ceiling, but the spending levels of the debt ceiling agreement, that was a ceiling, not a floor. We can go lower in the appropriations process.
So we intend to hold him to that or to use every amount of leverage that we have to do that.
We’re recognizing the House failed once again to do its job, and we passed one out of 12 appropriations bills primarily because we would not go along without having a total spending cut plan. In other words, we didn’t want to pass a handful of them upfront not knowing what the spending cuts were on the back end and how the whole puzzle fits together.
So we passed one … we’ve only got, I think it’s 11 legislative days when we get back, and unless we come back early—certainly I’m ready to go back early to get our work done. But if we don’t do that, the calendar’s really challenging.
So what we were saying in response to the speaker telling the conference, “Hey, maybe we need to have to do a CR, or continuing resolution,” is that if we’re going to do that, we’ve got to get a win for the American people to do it.
We can’t just kick the can down the road 30 or 60 days. And really, we think 60 would be terrible, to kick it to Dec. 1. And then the members on both sides are, “Oh, Christmas, we got to leave because of Christmas. Let’s just do an omnibus.” We’ve seen that play before, as you know.
So we’re saying we got to get a win for the American people. No. 1 would be securing the border, implementing HR 2, the bill we passed out of the House.
We also would like to attack the weaponization of federal government against its citizens and the emasculating or the weakening, or I call the wussifying, of our military at the hands of this administration.
So we’ve got to get some wins, not for the Republican Party, not for Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy or the Freedom Caucus, but for the American people in exchange for extending the time period for us to get our work done to pass the appropriations bill.
Bluey: It all seems quite reasonable. These are issues that the American people care about. We consistently see border security as one of the top concerns on the minds of not just conservatives but Americans who see it affecting their communities all across this country.
I’m glad you began with the issue of spending. You were one of the group that held out when Speaker McCarthy was running for election in January. Take us back to that moment and why it was so important to reform to the process.
Good: Well, to clarify, I was part of the 20 that was part of the 15-vote process, but I was part of that final six who never switched our vote to yes.
So I wasn’t directly involved with the negotiations or the agreement that was made by my friends who were part of the 14, but I was involved in the discussions with them, but not direct on the speaker on that. So I just want to clarify on that.
I was one of those who wanted to see all the way through to ultimate leadership change. However, what January was about was when Republicans have had majorities, let’s say over the last 15 years or so, every major spending legislation, every major spending bill was passed with predominantly Democrat votes.
And in addition to that, [former House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi had consolidated all power in the hands of the speaker and her select Rules Committee that she would personally assign all the majority members, of course.
And our current speaker was seemingly on track to keep that same level of power. And he was, whether it was the majority whip or the majority leader, he wasn’t the speaker back when we had control before, but we said we can’t do what we’ve done before and expect we’re going to get a different result.
So we wanted to change how Congress worked, change the rules of the House, some of that going back to the way it used to be, regular order, working through committees—not going straight to the Rules Committee, allowing amendments from the floor, minimum amount of time to read legislation, single-issue bills. The subject has to be germane, as we call it there in the House.
And we also wanted some conservative representation on the Rules Committee and on the spending or Appropriations Committee. And we accomplished those things, which gave us a fighting chance and a seat at the table.
The Freedom Caucuses had a voice and had influence and has been in significant negotiations on every major piece of legislation except the “Failed Responsibility Act,” the debt ceiling agreement, which shattered the conservative coalition in the House, the unified House that we had.
So it was about not doing what we’ve always done and expecting a different result.
But I will tell you, on the spending side, the debt ceiling agreement simply delayed what would’ve happened with a Democrat speaker and a Democrat majority.
We passed that bill with Democrats voting for it 4 to 1, and Republicans voting for it 2 to 1. I was, of course, part of that one-third of Republicans who didn’t vote for it, but Democrats voted for about 80%.
Did they suddenly become fiscal hawks and all of a sudden care about the national debt and care about the spending? That’s what the Republican leadership would’ve had us believe when they called it a good bill, the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
So that was a terrible mistake, that bill, and it violated the principles and the agreements that were part of my 14 colleagues who voted for the speaker to become speaker and allowed that to move forward.
And so we’re trying to return to that, most importantly because American people cannot afford for us just to continue to recklessly spend. …
I get asked about shutting down the government a lot because I guess, in our press conference a couple of weeks back, I said, “I’m not afraid of shutting down the government. Most of what we do up in Washington’s bad anyway, and most Americans won’t even miss it if we’re shut down.”
I had a reporter, a local reporter in my district, asking the other day, “What are you going to say if the government gets shut down to those who are going to national parks from your district and they can’t go to a park because the government’s been shut down?”
And I said, “I’ve traveled the district over these last couple of weeks since we’ve been back from Washington, and the folks were asking about inflation and gas prices and grocery prices and housing and interest rates and the border invasion and the school system and rising crime. No one’s yet asked me about the parks or told me the most important thing to them was to go to the national parks. So if you’re asking me, am I afraid that we might temporarily stop bankrupting the country, borrowing from China, stealing from our kids and grandkids to fund the very government tyranny that we campaign against, I’m not afraid of that.”
Bluey: The thing that frustrates me is, and we know this with the dishonest and corrupt media, that they’re going to always blame conservatives for shutting down the government.
But let’s face it, Democrats are in control of the White House. Democrats have control of the Senate. And as [the Freedom Caucus] pointed out on Twitter, in response to [House Minority Leader] Hakeem Jeffries, they are the ones that are standing in the way of these commonsense policy solutions.
How do conservatives push back against that narrative?
Good: Great point. The greatest reflection with where the American people are politically at a moment, or at least every two years, is the House.
As you know, it’s not the White House. That’s every four years. We have an Electoral College, which I obviously support what Founders did with that. The Senate’s not proportional by population. It’s two per state.
But the House is every two years. It’s proportional by population. Everybody has, essentially, an equal voice. And the American people gave us the majority around fiscal responsibility. So the America people are behind this.
I think people are aware at an unprecedented level that spending impacts their lives because they’re feeling the 40-year-high inflation. They’re seeing the Fed respond with the interest rate increases, which are crushing them. The average mortgage costs a thousand dollars a month more for interest than it did when this gentleman became president two and a half years ago.
So the American people are suffering, and I think they’re realizing we can’t keep doing what we’ve done. So I think we are ready to withstand that.
I think, to your point, how do we handle that? We’re going to get blamed by much of the media, of course, but most Americans, unfortunately, are conditioned not to trust most of the media anymore. And that’s why I do think it’s important for us to get a win for the American people in exchange for kicking the can down the road.
We can’t be afraid of using the leverage of House control. We can’t be afraid of shutting the government down.
And I have been calling on the speaker. This led into the “Failed Responsibility Act” after Limit, Save, Grow to do this. I’m calling on him again to do this, to stare down the Senate, to stare down the White House, to be a historic, transformational speaker that, for once in modern times, I allowed Republicans to win because we forced Democrats to cave instead of Republicans to cave.
What would happen if the House simply said “no”? The House simply said “no” to the Senate, the White House, and however long it takes, we’re going to cut spending. We’re going to put fiscal reforms in place. We’re going to change the policies that are hurting the country.
Which, I will say, because I would argue most of you of the Freedom Caucus influence, but the policies that are in the spending bills that had been marked up are significantly reversing the harmful policies the American people are suffering under. So it’s good policy in there.
Now, we’ve got to hold the ground on those because Senate’s not going to like it, the White House is not going to like it. But what if the House simply said “no” and refused? I think the Dems are more addicted to government and to spending than we are, and I think we could outlast it.
And you have to have walkaway leverage. You have to be willing to say “no.” You have to show them that you mean business, have nerves of steel, a spine of steel. And we haven’t shown that in many, many years.
Bluey: The American people sent you there to say, “No. We can’t continue to go down the path that we have.” We have uncontrollable debt in this country and, frankly, it’s up to conservatives to hold the line.
Let’s go through those three policy issues that you talked about earlier. The first one is the Secure the Border Act, a monumental piece of legislation that the House passed earlier this year. What can the American people expect to see change as a result of that?
Good: In simple terms, it codifies into law the effective policies and more that President [Donald] Trump was applying.
President Trump’s actions that were largely securing the border, we had the most secure border in decades, and as you know, had largely reduced illegal immigration. But those were policies and actions by the administration where we’re trying to codify those into law so that a future president couldn’t just change the policies. It would literally take another act of Congress.
And what it would do is, in addition to completing the wall, which is a critically obvious, commonsense, important piece of it, but it would also end catch and release. It would reinstate “Remain in Mexico.” It would add surveillance security that we need in addition to just the border wall itself. Because the border wall itself is not a stand-alone perfect policy, but it allows so many fewer officers to patrol the areas because of the enhancement that it has.
So it would be a significant, comprehensive border security bill. It’s not an immigration bill, it’s a border security bill focused on eliminating illegal immigration, or largely eliminating illegal immigration, which, as we know, is an economic security issue, is a national security issue, critical.
And it’s an 80% issue for most Americans. Most Americans are concerned about the border invasion. They don’t hear a lot about it from much of the media, as you know, but they recognize it’s a significant, significant problem.
Untold irreparable harm has been intentionally done to this country by this president even if we secured the border today because of the 1.5 million “gotaways” in addition to the 6 million they have let into the country for all the free stuff.
Bluey: It’s significant. The American people see it affecting their local communities, as I’m sure the residents in your district do as well.
The second item you mentioned has to do with the weaponization of the Department of Justice and FBI. This is a concern not only because of what the American people see happening to people like Donald Trump, who is, obviously, the former president and somebody who’s in a high-profile position, but also individuals in their everyday lives, people who protest outside of abortion clinics or people who go to school board meetings. They see the consequences of this administration’s policy.
So what does that second item accomplish?
Good: That was, as you know, in the statement, a little bit more generic and it’s a little bit more broad, if you will.
And what we’re saying, we’ve got to do something for the American people on the issue that you could argue, perhaps the most harmful result of this administration in the last two and a half years, loss of faith and trust in our “Department of Injustice,” I call it now, our federal law enforcement, the blatant willingness of the Biden administration to use every lever of power, to abuse their levers of power to go after political opponents, those who would disagree with their leftist agenda—whether it’s going after pro-life protests for Pennsylvania or Catholics of Richmond, Virginia near me, or parents who show up in school board meetings.
So it’s saying, what do we got to do to defund this [Department of Justice]? What are we going to do to defund the FBI? We certainly shouldn’t be funding any headquarters expansion bigger than the Pentagon. And what are we going to do to hold [Attorney General] Merrick Garland and [FBI Director] Christopher Wray and those most responsible accountable for what they’re doing?
We are in danger, as you know, of becoming, I think, as you would agree, of becoming a police state, becoming a banana republic, where there’s disparate treatment based on political views, disparate treatment based on who you support for president. So we were saying, “Hey, we’ve got to do something about that.”
Now, I will tell you, again, in the spending bills, there are some significant reductions in funding for some of these entities. But we want to go after individuals, use the Holman rule to go after Merrick Garland. He ought to be impeached. Christopher Wray ought to be impeached. We ought to at least have inquiries to see what their responsibility is.
They’ll claim everything that you identify, “Oh, this was a one-off. This was an accident. This doesn’t represent the department as a whole. Hey, we didn’t know about this, and once we found out about it, we stopped it.”
So we want to use the power of the purse to limit their ability to harm the American.
Bluey: Third and finally is the woke Pentagon. I’ve reported on Sen. [Tommy] Tuberville’s effort in the Senate. I know you are a supporter of his hold on Pentagon nominees, those who are facing the prospect of a promotion.
What is going on at the Pentagon and why you are so concerned about the war-fighting capabilities and readiness if they decide to keep going down this path.
Good: We have to have the stomach or the resolve to follow through and to not just slow things down and hold the line and not allow the advancement of the radical leftist policies that have reflected the previous two years, but we’ve got to go on offense and reverse those policies. And so the Pentagon and the Defense Department is a great example of that.
And once again, one of the terrible harms perpetrated on the American people is the weakening of the military. And it begins with the commander in chief who has told the military, and when he first became president and repeated many times over, that the greatest threat to the country is climate change and that their focus should be climate change and that everything’s going to be viewed through a climate lens.
So we have defense policies that are impacted by the effects on the environment and climate, not force readiness, not lethality, not most effectiveness, but climate. Things like forcing our military vehicles to move toward electric vehicles, to have sustainable fuel for our planes.
Can you just imagine China and Russia and Iran and North Korea doing that, or what they might think? “Let’s have a timeout in the conflict, we’ve got to recharge our vehicles because we’ve run out of power, or the grid in the country that we’re in won’t sustain it.”
So we’ve got to eliminate the climate focus. We’ve got to eliminate diversity for the sake of diversity. We just need to have a colorblind policy.
As you know, the military’s been decades ahead of the country going back historically to being a merit-based system that focused, again, on readiness and effectiveness, kind of like athletics. Athletics in the military were kind of out front on that.
And there’s a reason why [Defense Secretary] Lloyd Austin and Colin Powell and people like that have risen to the highest ranks of the military for decades. That’s not new. But we also have to reverse this hyper-focus on LGBTQ policies, funding for transgender surgery in the military. Reversing, frankly, violating the law and reversing policy with funding of abortion in the military.
Thank God for Sen. Tuberville.
It’s amazing what the [National Defense Authorization Act] we took—that’s an authorization bill. But a couple of months ago, we took a big step as a House with putting good policy in there and the media, the Left, the Democrats said, “Oh, you’re making the culture issue of the military.”
No, we’re ending the culture war that the Left perpetrated over the last couple of years, and we’re going back to the policies a couple of years ago and to focus on readiness and effectiveness.
There’s a reason why recruitment is down. And what we also want to do is restore, not just end, the policies of kicking out military members for not getting a vaccine, which we thought might be over for a while. Looks like it might be coming back with these new COVID claims.
But kicking out members for [not] getting a vaccine, we can’t just end the policy. We’ve got to restore and make whole those who have been damaged in terms of retirement benefits, back pay, and those sorts of things. And so we want to do that as well. We’ve got to get our recruitment up by changing the focus.
Thank God for Tommy Tuberville separately, but related, as you know, for taking that stand, as you noted, on life.
And I’ll just add one last thing, these phony false claims that it’s affecting readiness because of what he’s doing, first of all, the Senate could confirm these appointments one by one if they wanted to, but they don’t want to do the work. They want to do them all together by unanimous consent.
And secondly, it doesn’t impact readiness. You’ve already got people in place who stay in place until the replacement comes. So there’s no harm there. Or you take individuals and you put them in place without—they begin to do the job without the official increase in pay. … You got a two-star doing a three-star job. He hadn’t gotten his three star yet because he hasn’t been confirmed, doesn’t impact readiness.
You’re going to tell me the military doesn’t have the personnel in place to be ready right now without these promotions and these extra pay increases?
And thank God for Sen. Tuberville for standing strong. He’s been supported by Sen. [Roger] Marshall and by Sen. [Mike] Lee, who stood beside him there. And a number of my House colleagues and I have went over to the Senate to cheer him on when he’s giving those speeches or that righteous position.
Bluey: The other thing to remember here is these are high-ranking military officers. There’s approximately 300 of them. The dishonesty, not only on the part of those on the Left who make these outrageous claims, but of the media, which just carries them verbatim. It seems they’re intent on undermining and attacking Sen. Tuberville at every turn.
Good: I may add, sadly, many of them too are representative of what’s wrong with the new military and the Biden administration. And these are hyper-woke, hyper-leftist individuals who are part of promoting and pushing and advancing the policies that are undermining the military. So I’m not in a hurry to get them in place anyway.
Bluey: A two-part question for you. No. 1, what sort of reaction have you heard from House leadership, specifically Speaker McCarthy, on the Freedom Caucus’ official position? And secondly, what can the American people, what can the conservatives who are listening to this interview do over the coming weeks as this debate heats up?
Good: Let me do the latter part first.
What individuals can do is reach out to their member of Congress, especially if it’s a Republican, especially if it’s Republican, and demand that they cut back to pre-COVID level spending, demand that we don’t do an unconditional CR that just kicks the can down the road without getting any wins for the American people. Demand that they not vote for an omnibus if that comes up in December. Demand cuts in spending, demand they join what the Freedom Caucus is doing.
As it relates to Speaker McCarthy, I think he wants to find a path forward. I think he wants to find a way to work together, but he has a binary choice.
He’s either going to have to work with the Democrats to get Democrat votes to maintain the status quo or he is going to have to adopt the conservative position that we ran on as a House last fall and then stand strong and force the moderates, who said that he had to be speaker and only he could be speaker and they were behind him, he’s got to tell them he needs their support so that he has our support too and pass a conservative bill—conservative bills, I should say, with these 11 appropriations bills that do keep the commitments that were made back in January. Keep the Republican coalition together in the House and force the Senate and the White House to adopt our position.
Bluey: There’s another proposal out there from the Biden administration to send $24 billion to Ukraine, and they’re trying to tie that together with emergency disaster relief here in the United States. Your thoughts on this proposal?
Good: That represents what’s wrong with Washington, as you know, that you’re going to hold hostage one vote for another vote.
As it relates to Hawaii, quite frankly, that’s a reflection of climate policies that have caused those fires. People are literally dying because of this climate-environmental extremism that’s going on in the name of anti-reliable, affordable energy.
And we ought to help the people in Hawaii, perhaps, but we ought to do it by taking away, maybe it’s funding for the IRS or maybe some of the climate funding. So we ought to take it from, not borrow the money, not further exacerbate our spending problem or our deficit, but take it from something else.
Secondly, we ought not to be holding one vote hostage to another or one. Those are not germane. Emergency funding for Hawaii has nothing to do with Ukraine.
I’m against additional funding for Ukraine for a number of reasons. I don’t think it’s our national security issue. I don’t think that we ought to be leading NATO in Europe and carrying the lion’s share of it. I don’t know what’s the exit strategy, I don’t know what result looks like, I don’t know what the limit of U.S. involvement is.
We don’t have accountability for the $113 billion or so that’s already been sent there. We have to borrow the money that we do send there. We’ve got our own national security issues. We’ve got our own weakened military issues. Why would we continue to exacerbate our own problems by sending resources to Ukraine?
Bluey: Congressman Bob Good, thank you for your leadership in Congress. You can follow him on at @RepBobGood. Be sure to check out there not only his stance on all of the conservative issues, but his leadership there at the Freedom Caucus, which put out this official position just this week.
We appreciate you joining The Daily Signal.
Good: Great to be with you. Thanks for having me again. Take care.
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