For Rep. Chip Roy, it’s a frustrating conversation that happens all too often with fellow lawmakers on his side of the aisle. 

“‘Chip, we have a razor-thin majority. We just have to win the White House; we just have to win the Senate,’” the Texas Republican recalled in a speech Tuesday. 

When he hears colleagues concerned about the narrow 217-212 House Republican majority, he notes the Democrats’ narrow Senate majority—51 senators in the Democratic caucus compared with 49 Republicans. 

“Well, when do they ever look across there and say Chuck Schumer has a razor-thin majority?” Roy said of the Senate Democratic leader from New York. “When do they ever look and say, ‘You’re actually in charge of the House of Representatives, which James Madison told you in [Federalist Paper 58] actually has the power of the purse. Do something with it. Stop making excuses.’”

That prompted applause from the audience at The Heritage Foundation at an event, “Defunding the Left.” (Heritage founded The Daily Signal in 2014.) 

Roy had earlier quoted Madison—father of the Constitution and later the fourth president of the United States—who wrote in Federalist 58

The House of Representatives can not only refuse, but they alone can propose the supplies requisite for the support of government. … This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any Constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.

Though the GOP mostly prevented nondefense spending hikes, and kept the political focus on border security, he said irresponsible spending is a bipartisan problem that “infests the entire swamp” in both parties. 

“The fundamental problem is not just the weakening of the dollar and the strength of our financial system. It’s actually the radical Left funding the tyranny, funding the government that’s at war with your way of life.”

He noted the Republican-controlled House approved $62 billion in funding for the Department of Homeland Security amid rising crime and fentanyl deaths in the U.S. resulting from the border crisis

The House majority also went along with $200 million to fund a new FBI headquarters and overall about $40 billion for the Justice Department, despite concerns about politicized lawfare. He noted $824 billion went to the Defense Department with no demands to scrap its focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion policies that are hurting armed forces recruitment. 

The House majority allowed $80 billion for the Department of Education; $9 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency; and $117 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, while requiring no accountability for mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic by departmental subordinate agencies, such as National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

While his GOP colleagues often talk about the need to win the next election, Roy said, conservative control of both houses of Congress and the White House are not guaranteed to reverse the trend. 

“Literally, on Day One, they are going to say, ‘Chip, we can’t do all you want to do because we don’t have 60 in the Senate. You’ve got to be reasonable.’” Roy predicted. “I promise you that’s coming. So, we have to win majorities. But we have to plan now for driving a steamroller over the weak-kneed individuals in Congress that will use 60 [as a premise] not to fight for you.”

In the Senate, 60 votes are required to end filibusters. 

Roy noted there were some positive accomplishments, however. Since winning the majority, House Republicans have for the most part “kept the ball on our side of the field,” he said.  

Nondefense spending was largely held flat, while increased defense spending in 2023 was initially paid for by taking money out of the Internal Revenue Service and unspent COVID-19 funding. 

That occurred after then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., put caps in place, even though the caps were discarded in January. Further, Roy noted that House Republicans didn’t let Democrats redirect the border debate to one of amnesty for illegal immigrants. 

“Amnesty was off the table. All we talked about this last year was border security. We didn’t achieve it, but we didn’t allow the Democrats to start moving the ball down the field and have a debate about amnesty,” Roy said.  “It matters where you set the goal post and how you set your mission.”

The Texas lawmaker criticized the recent $95 billion foreign aid package that passed without the support of most Republicans. He said that too often, members of Congress “default to fear” on defense spending. 

“I want the strongest military that we can possibly produce. I want it to be sparingly used,” Roy said, adding:

I don’t want to use it often, but if we do, I want it to destroy everything in its path. But we just default to fear, and we use the national security-defense complex to run over everything else.

“People literally come into [House Republicans’] meetings and say, ‘We just can’t risk defense.’ Well, if that’s what you do, you’re never going to change the town,” he continued, “because they are always going to use defense as the leverage to say, ‘We’re not going to cut [the Justice Department]; we’re not going to cut education; we’re not going to make reforms.”