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August 25, 2023 12:00 PM UTC

Buck Bucks Freedom Caucus Once Again, But Won't Really Help

  • by: Colorado Pols
The button Rep. Ken Buck could press but won’t.

Members of Congress are out of Washington for the August recess, but as the Washington Post reported Wednesday, a daunting pile of unfinished business awaits to be worked out when members return next month–and the narrow GOP House majority is divided on whether to govern like grownups, or once again force the nation down the familiar path of self-induced fiscal crisis:

The far-right House Freedom Caucus escalated the stakes Monday by releasing a list of demands to support a short-term, stopgap funding bill that will likely be needed to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30…

CRs generally extend existing funding levels and are usually free of such big policy provisions, but the group is seeking to leverage House Republicans’ razor thin majority to force a shutdown showdown right from the start.

The group’s escalatory and “unrealistic” tactics are becoming an increasing source of frustration for some of their GOP colleagues.

If you didn’t know better, once again, you might mistake Rep. Ken Buck for a reasonable voice in this conflict between Rep. Lauren Boebert’s far-right Freedom Caucus and Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Buck was quoted in this story both distancing himself from the Freedom Caucus’ demands and seemingly lamenting a shutdown:

One of the Freedom Caucus’s own members, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), said in an interview that he didn’t support the group’s move. (The group needs support from an overwhelming majority of its members to take an official position.)

“They’ve locked themselves into not voting for the CR if those things aren’t met,” Buck said, adding that Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) might need to start looking for Democratic votes. [Pols emphasis]

For Buck to suggest that it may be necessary once again for Speaker McCarthy to seek support across the aisle to pass the spending bills needed to keep the government open is nothing short of heretical coming from a member of the Freedom Caucus. The imposition of this latest list of demands from the Freedom Caucus appears to have shifted Buck’s opinion toward suggesting McCarthy make another end run around his fellow Republicans into the loving arms of Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. As recently as last week, as reported in the Colorado Sun’s Unaffiliated newsletter, Buck was glumly predicting an “inevitable” shutdown:

Buck had a pessimistic view of the coming debate on the federal budget. He said a federal government shutdown is inevitable. “We are going to shut down,” he said. “There is no simple answer other than reducing spending.” [Pols emphasis] The Democrats at the luncheon expressed hope that Republicans wouldn’t let that happen.

Freedom Caucus members not named Ken Buck have already threatened to challenge McCarthy’s speakership, using the expanded power to do so they gained in the deal to allow McCarthy to take the job, if he repeats the deal made with the White House on the debt ceiling last spring and passes major legislation with Democratic support. But that now appears to be the course that Ken Buck is advocating for Kevin McCarthy to take.

So why doesn’t Buck get an atta-boy for suggesting this reasonable yet politically extremely risky course of action? That’s simple: Buck has nothing invested in the outcome. Based on Buck’s well-established voting record, he’s almost certain to vote against any spending deal that emerges. Buck’s preferred solution to the nation’s fiscal issues, as readers know, is to make America’s retirement age the highest in the world–and since nothing close to that drastic remedy ever comes up for a vote, Buck votes against basically every spending bill from either party.

Buck, who often votes against CRs, [Pols emphasis] said the Freedom Caucus should be focusing its efforts on reducing the top-line spending amount.

Ken Buck can identify the problem, and articulate a solution to the problem, but Buck has no intention of actually himself helping solve the problem. As Virginia Woolf said, “on the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points.”

History will record that is the best Ken Buck could manage.


5 thoughts on “Buck Bucks Freedom Caucus Once Again, But Won’t Really Help

  1. re: Buck had a pessimistic view of the coming debate on the federal budget. He said a federal government shutdown is inevitable. “We are going to shut down,” he said. “There is no simple answer other than reducing spending.” [Pols emphasis]


    Republicans are apparently in favor of reduced spending — and are pursuing the ultimate by defunding not only federal law enforcement, but ALL of the federal government. Looking forwatd to how the Republicans explain the suspension of government and the coercive element of having vital service providers (military, law enforcement) and separately funded programs (air traffic controllers) continue to work but not get paid. 

    The easiest thing to do would be to follow the path of the earlier deal on the debt ceiling. 

    But McCarthy doesn't have the status to use moral suasion of "keep the deal we've made." 

    So, I'm hoping Rep. Jeffries & his team have a clear offer for whatever remnant of sane Republicans may be around — adequate support for passage of a deal that will take the United States through January 3, 2025 (and a bit beyond, giving time for the new House and Senate to get something passed).

    1. “remnant of sane Republicans…..” There is a Mainstreet Caucus of moderate and common sense conservative Republicans that is much larger than the “Freedom Caucus.” Time for the likes of Don Bacon (NE), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Dusty Johnson (SD), and others to speak up.

      1. Those five new Republicans US Reps from NY State who hold very swingy districts, with the notable exception of that moron, George Santos, will lean of "My Kevin" to cut a deal.

    2. Part of me wonders how impactful it would be if the ATC Union called for a strike. Shut air traffic down. Politics seems to react quite swiftly when the dollar spigot is turned off. 

    3. Who cares?

      How many of these shutdowns have occurred in the past 30 years?

      And how many of those were blamed by the voters on the Democrats?

      Remember the time in 1990’s when we had a shutdown because Newt Gingrich didn’t like his seating and exiting from Air Force One at the Rabin funeral?

      Who usually pays the political price for these shutdowns?

      Bring it on! I hope Kenny is right with his pessimism.

      PS The debt ceiling was a more dangerous situation because we had never gone there before, and no one knew what the consequences might be. A shutdown, on the other hand, is quite familiar territory.

      National parks and museums will close. Plan your camping trip accordingly. Medicare payments to rich doctors may be delayed. Note to the doctors: you may need to live off your AmEx Platinum card for a while.

      But all of the essential governmental services will continue. And BTW, when the shutdown ends, the government employees who were furloughed end up getting their back pay. For staying home.

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