MEMO: MAGA Extremists’ Shutdown Circus: Extreme Demands Take Center Stage

To: Interested Parties

From: Albert Fujii, [email protected]

Date: Tuesday, February 27, 2024

RE: MAGA Extremists’ Shutdown Circus: Extreme Demands Take Center Stage

Once again, Speaker Mike Johnson and extreme MAGA Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are threatening to shut down the government unless they are able to pass dangerous and deeply unpopular demands—like cutting critical food programs and pushing extreme abortion restrictions.

  • CNBC: House GOP’s budget ‘poison pills’ could force spending cuts, rattle economy
  • POLITICO: GOP senators to House: Drop the poison pills
  • Forbes: ‘Move Past The Poison Pills’: Patty Murray Urges Bipartisanship To Avoid Government Shutdown
  • The Hill: Democrats warn Johnson not to cave to Freedom Caucus spending demands  

Instead of backing the bipartisan agreement with no poison pills and no cuts, they are using the funding bills expiring on March 1 to push a radical and harmful agenda that jeopardizes the health and livelihoods of everyday Americans across the country. 

Here are the most egregious poison pills extreme Republicans are pushing:

1. Attacking Food Assistance Programs Like WIC and SNAP: Extreme House Republicans are refusing to fully fund WIC, jeopardizing crucial nutrition assistance for women, children, and infants. This could impact around two million people, including households receiving both SNAP and WIC benefits. Without full funding, states may be forced to turn down qualified applicants for the first time in decades, risking millions of eligible pregnant and postpartum women and their children missing out on nutrition assistance this year. In addition, extreme House Republicans are pushing to further restrict how SNAP recipients can spend their benefits, a program widely opposed by nutrition advocates and the food industry.

As a reminder, nearly every House Republican has already voted this Congress to cut funding for WIC and impose harsher work requirements on SNAP benefits.

What they’re saying:

  • New York Times on the importance of WIC: “Roughly half of all infants born in the United States receive WIC benefits. Research has shown that children who participate eat more nutritious foods and are more likely to have better long-term health. Spending on the program has also been associated with fewer infant deaths and premature births, along with savings in health care costs after birth, according to studies.”
  • Punchbowl: “There’s a dispute over hundreds of millions of dollars in WIC funding — Women, Infants and Children — under the Agriculture Department. The department has warned of a possible $1 billion shortfall in the program unless more money is approved, which could put millions of program participants at risk. Conservatives want to keep this funding flat.”
  • Politico: “Behind the scenes, GOP negotiators have been pushing for several contentious policy riders […] (3) a pilot program proposed by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) that would restrict SNAP food aid purchases.”
  • Politico: The “SNAP-choice” program would further “restrict which foods low-income families can buy with their SNAP benefits.”

2. Undermining Healthcare Access and Abortion Rights: Out-of-touch Republicans are continuing to push a policy rider that would make it harder to access abortion medication. Some Republicans have already voted for this provision in previous appropriations bills. Extreme Republicans may also be continuing to attempt to ban the VA from providing abortion services to veterans. Almost all House Republicans voted for this ban in the last version of this appropriations bill in July 2023. 

What they’re saying:

  • Politico: “Behind the scenes, GOP negotiators have been pushing for several contentious policy riders […] (2) a ban on mail delivery of abortion medication.”
  • Roll Call: “And in their version of the Agriculture bill, House Republicans would reinstate an in-person dispensing requirement for the abortion drug mifepristone, for example. That provision did not receive support from some moderate Republicans and played a role in the Agriculture bill’s 191-237 defeat on the floor in September.”
  • Roll Call: “This fight is playing out in the first tranche of bills, as the parties remain at a standstill over abortion and gun policy riders Republicans are pushing for. The chamber’s Military Construction-VA bill would block the Department of Veterans Affairs from implementing a rule that would remove exclusions of abortion and related counseling services from veterans’ benefit packages.”

3. Obstructing Gun Safety Measures: Extreme Republicans are pushing a harmful National Rifle Association-backed amendment that would keep veterans’ names off the criminal background check list.

What they’re saying:

  • Roll Call: “On firearms, House Republicans amended the Military Construction-VA bill on the floor to prevent the VA from sending veterans’ names to the Justice Department for a criminal background check if they asked for help managing their finances. The National Rifle Association-backed amendment won a handful of Democratic votes on the floor, including from vulnerable incumbents.”

4. Undermining LGBTQ+ Housing Initiatives: Republicans have pushed to remove critical funding support and protections for LGBTQ+ housing initiatives. Notably, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., had advocated for a $970,000 earmark dedicated to a transitional housing program at the LGBT Center of Greater Reading. However, this earmark, alongside two others with similar intentions, was eliminated from the Transportation-HUD bill by Republicans. Although the Senate bill reinstated funding for two of the initiatives, concerns remain regarding the potential impacts of such actions on the LGBTQ+ community.

What they’re saying:

  • Roll Call: “One outstanding matter is the $970,000 earmark that Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., requested for a transitional housing program at the LGBT Center of Greater Reading. Republicans eliminated that earmark and two similar.”

5. Forcing an Unpopular and Unnecessary Border and Immigration Agenda: House Republicans continue to insist on increased border security funding in the appropriations process, despite just killing a bipartisan border bill. 

What they’re saying:

  • Punchbowl: “Lastly, GOP hardliners are already suggesting that Republicans force Biden to add more money for border security. This comes despite the fact that Johnson and conservative hardliners helped kill a bipartisan Senate border security bill just weeks ago.” 
  • Mike Johnson: “This is not a time for petty politics. House Republicans will continue to work in good faith and hope to reach an outcome as soon as possible, even as we continue to insist that our own border security must be addressed immediately.” 


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