By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, is making it well known that he is not happy with the recent bipartisan budget deal — a wide-ranging agreement that upped federal spending levels to the disdain of fiscal conservatives in the House.
Congress passed the two-year spending bill last week, ending months of budgeting quarrels and a brief government shutdown while providing money to disaster relief and lifting sequestration spending caps for the military. The GOP-controlled House voted to pass the bill 240-186 Friday with the support 73 Democratic members.
But Brooks called the massive deal a “smoke and mirrors” budget, hitting his Republican colleagues for approving a budget that hikes the debt ceiling, increases federal discretionary spending by $300 billion over two years and raises deficits.
“It’s borrowing money we don’t have and we can’t afford to pay back,” Brooks said this week on Fox Business. “It’s not the way to operate a household, and it’s not the way to operate a business. It’s not the way to operate a country.”
Brooks joined 67 other House Republicans, largely members of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group in Congress, to oppose the bill. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, another budget hawk in the upper chamber, stalled the deal for hours in the Senate Thursday night before moving aside to allow the body to vote on the legislation.
By opposing the deal, Brooks has broken with both his party’s Congressional leadership and President Donald Trump, who praised the deal after its passage, tweeting that it would be a “big victory” for the military.
Congress has been fighting for months to reach a deal. That fighting led to two government shutdowns and a looming fight over the debt ceiling, which could have been reached next month. The deal will put to an end the cycle of shutdowns that have plagued Capitol Hill.
The deal boosts military spending by over $195 billion over the next two years and non-defense spending by almost $131 billion. Almost $90 billion will go to disaster relief in the wake of wildfires and hurricanes last year.
“This bill ensures that, for the first time in years, from Fort Campbell to Fort Knox to the Blue Grass Army Depot, our armed forces will have more of the resources they need to keep America safe,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement after Trump signed the deal.
Though Trump signed and supported the deal, it was struck largely without his involvement and he later said Republicans were “forced” to increase spending in order to attract Democrats, whose votes were needed to pass the deal.
Brooks, perhaps the most ardent fiscal hawk in Alabama’s delegation, said Congress needs to address entitlement spending in order to balance its budget. He suggested the Senate majority leader get rid of the 60-vote rule in the Senate — a longheld rule that requires 60 votes to cloture a filibuster.
“[It’s] not required in the Constitution and may not even be permitted in the Constitution. In a Republic, in a democracy, majority rules and wins,” Brooks said. “That’s not the case in the United States Senate.”
Brooks said Congress won’t be able to reach an entitlement reform without first doing away with that rule, effectively scrapping the need for Democratic votes in the Senate.
“Longterm, there is only one end game, and that end game is the insolvency and bankruptcy of the United States of America,” Brooks said. “If that happens, there may be no money for entitlement programs, no money for national defense. Pick your poison.”