- The Washington Times - Friday, January 6, 2023

Welcome to On Background, the politics newsletter that brings you insights from Capitol Hill to the campaign trail from veteran journalists at The Washington Times.

Click here to sign up and continue to receive On Background from Susan Ferrechio and Tom Howell Jr. every Friday morning.

We’ve spent days in the trenches on Capitol Hill as a veritable civil war broke out in the House Republican Conference, where a band of conservative rebels repeatedly derailed GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid to lead the party’s new majority as speaker of the House.

Mr. McCarthy thought he was making progress but lost multiple ballots on Thursday. Mr. McCarthy offered up a deal to placate 20 conservatives who want to change the way the House operates, changes that would diminish the speaker’s power.

It’s been a humiliating slog for Mr. McCarthy. Former President Donald Trump’s last-minute plea for McCarthy votes didn’t sway any House Republicans, reports Deputy Politics Editor Dave Boyer. Rep.-elect Matt Gaetz, a top McCarthy foe, even called the ex-president’s support “sad.”

On the border

The big news at the border is Mr. Biden saying it is finally time to do something about the immigration chaos. He revealed a new approach on Thursday, coupling a massive new path for some migrants while promising Trump-style expulsions and blockades to stop those who refuse to use his new avenues of entry. “This is a hard one to deal with, but we have to deal with it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the departing Arizona attorney general says the situation at the southern U.S. border is deteriorating to a historic low. “Since Joe Biden took office he essentially decriminalized and incentivized people breaking the law and coming over here,” Mark Brnovich, a Republican who is term-limited, said in an interview with The Washington Times. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that handles legal immigration requests, plans to raise fees on immigrants and the families and companies seeking to sponsor them. The agency said it needs to haul in nearly $2 billion per year to keep up with its workload. 

ICE deported only 28 military veterans in the last three years, meaning the oustings do not amount to the epidemic that some of the agency’s critics have claimed. Few illegal immigrants reach military service to begin with, and veterans are rarely ousted as immigrants unless they amass a criminal record, Mr. Dinan reports. Still, Democrats are pushing legislation that would give veterans facing deportation a chance to apply for enhanced status while awaiting removal.

At the White House

Follow the money. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau faces an uncertain future as the Supreme Court takes up a fight about its funding, Mr. Boyer reports. Critics of the financial watchdog say Congress needs to control its budget. Right now, Capitol Hill does not control the agency’s purse strings, prompting conservatives to say it is unaccountable to the American people. An appeals court said the CFPB’s self-funding scheme runs afoul of the Constitution. The Biden administration is fighting back, saying that decision was faulty.

Congress set aside nearly $80 billion for the IRS in Mr. Biden’s big tax and climate bill last year, but the agency could run into growing pains as it tries to spend the largesse. The revenue agency, as it scrounges for new recruits, could run into the type of problem the Border Patrol faced when it went on a spending and hiring spree 15 years ago. Agent-involved shootings rose, and drug cartels tried to plant operatives among the new hires, prompting a congressional response at the time.

On the road to 2024

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis swept into his second term acting like a guy who knows he’s the new leader of the GOP, using his inaugural address to declare that Florida is the “promised land of sanity” and “where woke goes to die,” reports TWT national political correspondent Seth McLaughlin.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire Democrats warned the Democratic National Committee they might not be able to fulfill its demands for expanded early voting because Republicans control the legislature and governor’s mansion. The Granite State said it fears being punished by the DNC, which is pursuing a plan to shake up the 2024 primary calendar. The plan calls for South Carolina to kick off the nomination race on Feb. 3, 2024, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire on Feb. 6, then Georgia, then Michigan.

In our opinion

TWT Opinion Editor Charlie Hurt writes that George Santos’ real problem isn’t all the lies on his resume. It’s that he is a gay man in the Republican Party.

Hoping and praying that lightning will strike is not a strategy for 2024 presidential wannabes. They need a real plan, argues TWT editor-at-large David Keene.

Michael McKenna lays out House Republicans’ agenda, as outlined by incoming Majority Leader Steve Scalise. Mr. McKenna says it’s a good start that can be improved.

Click here to sign up and continue to receive On Background from Susan Ferrechio and Tom Howell Jr. every Friday morning.

• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at sferrechio@washingtontimes.com.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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