The House will be back in session on Jan. 9, and the new leader of the House Freedom Caucus says border security will be a top priority when they return.
“Of the many crises that this president and these Democrats have created that the country is suffering under now,” says Rep. Bob Good, the newly elected chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, “the border … may be the greatest issue, the greatest crises of all.”
The Freedom Caucus represents the most conservative faction of Republicans in the House of Representatives, and Good, R-Va., assumed the position of chairman at the start of the new year, succeeding Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa.
Good joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to explain the top priorities for the House Freedom Caucus in 2024, and what kind of pressure he and the caucus are prepared to use to force action on border security.
“I think it’s a position of merit to say, again, the border is our greatest crisis,” Good said. “Irreparable harm has been done, is being done by this president, and at some point, the House should exercise its power of the purse and say, ‘No more.’”
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: It is my pleasure today to welcome to the show Congressman Bob Good of Virginia. Congressman Good is the newly elected chair of the House Freedom Caucus. Congressman, thank you so much for being here and congratulations on the new position.
Rep. Bob Good: Great to be with you, Virginia. Thank you for having me.
Allen: For those who are not familiar with the House Freedom Caucus, can you explain a little bit of what the mission of the caucus is?
Good: I would suggest that House Freedom Caucus’ purpose is twofold, one to be the conservative anchor, the conservative conscience of the Republican Party, that we would stand for the things that we claim to stand for, our founding Judeo-Christian principles, limited government, constitutional freedoms, a strong America, economic prosperity, our Judeo-Christian values, that would be Second Amendment, our First Amendment protections and so forth.
And but then also that we would demonstrate the courage to even hold our own party accountable when we stray from our core mission as Republicans to be the alternative, obviously, to the Democrat Party that seeks to destroy, they would say transform the country, that the Freedom Caucus would be the tip of the spear leading the fight on the issues important to our country, holding Republicans accountable to be who we say we are, to do what we say we would do, to validate the trust that’s placed in us when the American people empower us to lead and give us the majority of the House, for example, as we have it now.
Allen: Thank you. I know that there are so many major issues that we are facing in 2024. One of the priorities that you have been very, very clear as chairman that you want to address, and that you say you’ll use any means at your disposal to address, is to fix the situation at our southern border. What do you think it’s going to take to secure the southern border? And is it possible to secure the southern border while Democrats are in control of the Senate?
Good: Of the many crises that this president and these Democrats have created that the country is suffering under now, our weakened military; our war on affordable, reliable energy; the climate, environmental extremism; the massive spending that’s bankrupting us and crushing us with record inflation; the assault on our education system, there are so many issues that are just challenging and in of themselves you could argue are existential crises. And perhaps, though, the border—to your question—may be the greatest issue, the greatest crises of all.
And it is all manufactured, almost everything that we’re suffering under. Again, the issues that we described and other issues that we could talk about are a result of bad government policy, bad federal policy. And my hope would be that the country and the American people are connecting politics to the suffering they’re enduring.
And the crisis at the border, which is now finally beginning to manifest itself in a large way in our blue cities, our blue states, these locations that want to be sanctuary states, sanctuary cities, and were, at least in theory, supporting President [Joe] Biden’s policies at the border, are now suffering from them as well.
But to think about what the president has done—and I would submit no president in the history of the country has intentionally done more to harm the United States than what this president has done in these last three years as it relates to the border.
And you ask yourself, what is the end game? What is the purpose? Why would anyone do this to the country? Why would he intentionally, willfully, purposefully facilitate an invasion of hundreds of thousands, hundreds of thousands of illegals every month into our country?
Some 200,000 known individuals who surrender to Border Patrol to be taken into the custody by this administration with the free travel, free housing, free education, free social services, free welfare, health care, and so forth. That’s a couple of hundred thousand a month, just an inconceivable number.
And then you’ve got some additional tens of thousands of “gotaways,” the ones who don’t surrender for all the free stuff because they’ve got the terrorist ties, the criminal backgrounds, they’re trafficking drugs and children and women into the country, and just terribly dangerous individuals doing great harm to our country.
Why would anyone do this? And this president did this on purpose. He stopped the building on the border wall. He ran on amnesty. He ran on what he called a compassionate response to the border.
You had, as you know, thousands and thousands en masse at the border after the election back in November ’20 because they knew that this president was going to let them in unabated come January. They were wearing their Joe Biden T-shirts.
And this president’s policies have made what happened in Israel, two months ago now, more likely by the day here, especially once the next president secures the border and they’re no longer getting their accomplices in.
We have, again, just hundreds of thousands of dangerous individuals who’ve been allowed in the country under this president, millions total of the known gotaways. And if just a fraction of those are dangerous individuals, you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dangerous individuals.
Now, that said, you said, “What’s the answer?” What we need to do is insist that the Senate and the president pass and sign into the law HR 2, the border security bill that was passed out of the House, authored primarily by [Rep.] Chip Roy from Texas and [Rep.] Andy Biggs from Arizona, primary architects of that bill. And it codifies into law the policies that were working under President [Donald] Trump that were largely eliminating illegal immigration.
But they were executive action or they were action taken by the administration and it wasn’t codified into law by an act of Congress, these policies, so they could be changed by the next president who ended, again, border construction, ended “Remain in Mexico,” ended detain or return policies, ended those things that were working and reinstated catch and release and so forth.
So, what we need to insist upon is that the Senate and the White House, again, pass and sign into law our HR 2 border security bill and we don’t accept anything weaker, anything less.
Now, you could say, “Well, this president, even if that was to happen because he wanted to do that in order to try to get Ukraine money, for example, because he cares about securing Ukraine, but he doesn’t care about securing our country, well, and he wouldn’t actually implement the laws that were passed.” Well, we’re 12 months away from a new president, Lord willing, that would implement those laws.
In addition, what we could do is say, “We’re not going to fund the government.” That takes stomach, that takes willpower, that takes resolve, that takes courage, which is heretofore been undetected in the Republican majority.
But we could say, “Hey, we’re not going to fund this government, continue to give resources to the government in any fashion until the president secures the boarder.” You could make an argument that we and the House majority should say, “You know what? No more. We’re not passing anything. We’re not funding anything until this president and this Senate pass and sign this HR 2 border security bill.”
And we’re not going to fall for something weakened from the Senate, some semblance of pretend border security in exchange, and again, trying to get money for Ukraine or whatever they may be trying to achieve.
So that’s the key. We’ve got the good legislation, we just got to have the resolve to fight for it, which is something that the Republican majority, unfortunately, has not demonstrated willingness to do.
Allen: Is that a position that, under your leadership, the House Freedom Caucus would take, to say, “We’re not going to fund the government until HR 2, the border security bill, passes through the Senate and is signed by the president”?
Good: Well, it’s something that prior to becoming chairman—I officially become chairman on Jan. 1, voted in a week or two ago. But [Rep.] Scott Perry finishes out the year and I’ll be trying to build upon the work that he has done as I’ve served with him.
But some of us certainly have had those conversations. At what point do we get to where we just say, “Enough is enough, we’re just not going to allow the House to operate or the government to fund anything until we secure the border”?
We do have other fights on the horizon and I’m sure that we’ll touch on some of those that are important, critically important to the country as well that we want to engage in battle on while there’s still hope for success. But you could argue, and I think it’s a position of merit to say, again, the border is our greatest crisis. Irreparable harm has been done, is being done by this president, and at some point the House should exercise its power of the purse and say, “No more.”
Now, if you have a Republican majority that’s willing to work with Democrats to pass major pieces of legislation and to “operate the government,” no matter how much harm is being done to the American people, if we’re just going to work with Democrats to pass major spending bills and FISA extensions without reforms and the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act—which doesn’t put in the policies we need to preserve and protect our military’s ability to be the most effective fighting force on the planet.
If you’re going to work with Democrats and do that and have a working coalition with Democrats, then it limits the ability of conservatives, courageous conservatives to impact policy. And that’s something that we certainly would hope and trust that [House] Speaker [Mike] Johnson is not going to do as we continue the fights going forward at the end of this year and into the early next year.
Allen: Along those same lines, would the House Freedom Caucus support additional aid and funding for Ukraine if it meant a guarantee of HR 2 passing through the Senate and being signed by the president?
Good: Well, speaking for myself, and I do believe my colleagues do share this, but not speaking officially for the conference, excuse me, the Freedom Caucus, in terms of an official position, here’s where I think many of my colleagues are, and this is my view on it. No. 1, securing our border should be nonnegotiable, shouldn’t be connected to anything else.
All elected federal officials should honor the constitutional responsibility we have to protect the states from invasion and to exercise the priority of national security, national defense as the No. 1 role of the federal government. And it’s really inconceivable and unconscionable that anyone would oppose that. But however, sadly, we know that that is true. But that should be nonnegotiable and it shouldn’t be, “OK, we’ll do this, if you do that” kind of a thing.
And again, that’s why it’s so important that we don’t settle for some false hope to the American people that, “Hey, the Senate sends some weak negotiated deal between [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell and [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer that gets more money to [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas to process more illegals into the country, more quickly and more deceptively, and we pretend that there’s border security and there is not.” We can’t be hiding it from the American people or facilitating it faster. It’s actually got to be implemented and stopped, this illegal invasion.
And that is critically important for us to hold from a principled position.
Now, that said, we do have a point of leverage—to your question—where the president and the Democrats and some Republicans desperately want more money for Ukraine. We’ve sent them some $113 billion and there’s some who desperately want that. I think that our position should be, as a Republican House, that HR 2 is signed, passed and signed into law, period, and then we’ll talk about funding for Ukraine.
And any Ukraine funding should be dead on arrival until our border is secure. That’s why it was so important.
I’m going to give credit where it’s due to Speaker Johnson. What we did with the Israel supplemental was monumental in a couple of basis. We separated the $14 billion from Israel in the House out of the $106 billion package that was asked for. That included money for Mayorkas to process more illegals at the border, money for Ukraine, money for Taiwan, money for other disaster and humanitarian assistance, some of it for Hamas.
No, we said, “We’re going to fund Israel separately. We’re going to require it to be paid for. We’re going to utilize Biden’s IRS expansion and we’re not going to allow Israel, A, to be hijacked by this other $92 billion that has nothing to do with Israel.” That was critical. We need to hold our ground, stand our ground on that.
But Ukraine needs to be dead on arrival. We’re not going to take it up on the House. The speaker’s not going to bring it to the floor for a vote until our border is secure.
Now, that said, I think there would be some willingness by some Republicans, conservatives who would lean against support for Ukraine to say, “OK, if you got HR 2 signed into law and you begin to have demonstrable performance at the border in terms of metrics, measurables, where you’re going back to the Trump-like numbers, then you could pay some Ukraine aid out on the basis of the performance at the border.” Not the promised performance, but the actual performance at the border, which I don’t think this administration will ever do.
But then even if we did that, even if we did that, in other words, we had security of the border and you’re going to pay some money toward Ukraine because it does have popular support in the Congress, maybe around half the Republicans and as we know, most of the Democrats, then at least it has to be based on performance metrics at the border with HR 2 into law and a strategy, a definition of what limit of U.S. involvement is, what the definition of success is, what the end game is, what is the long-term strategy, what’s the transparency and accountability for how the funds are being used.
And then, most importantly, or equally important, I should say, it still has to be paid for. We cannot be borrowing from our kids and our grandkids and further exacerbating our debt situation even to support Israel. That’s why we made that pay for with the IRS reduction, the IRS expansion, but certainly not for Ukraine. We can’t be borrowing from the kids and the grandkids when we are bankrupt, when we’re literally running a $200 billion monthly deficit.
Allen: Absolutely. Well, let’s go ahead and talk about the economy since you bring that up, Congressman. We have a $33 trillion national debt. What are the plans that the House Freedom Caucus has to rein in government spending as we look to 2024 and the months ahead?
Good: Well, I will first acknowledge that it is a crisis and we have not met the moment so far, Republicans, with the majority that we have. We are on track right now to run next November on a unsecured border and some $36 trillion in national debt by then, we’re on track for. And so it’s exploded on our watch.
And the reason why we have a new speaker, for example, is because Republicans didn’t unite around a commitment to reduce our spending year over year, the level that this previous speaker agreed to back in January to become speaker, to cut back nondefense discretionary spending to pre-COVID levels, and then that we voted for in the Limit, Save, Grow bill that was then abandoned with the debt ceiling deal. And then we weren’t able to bring all 12 spending bills to the floor for votes at the commitment to the agreed upon spending levels at pre-COVID level for nondefense discretionary.
So it’s very frustrating, very disappointed that we as Republicans have not been united in purpose in doing that, that we’re just committed that we will cut spending year over year on our watch.
Everything we vote on, what’s called discretionary spending, which, for anyone listening who doesn’t know exactly difference between discretionary and mandatory, mandatory is what we don’t vote on. And that’s Congress, as a cop out, it’s Congress passing the buck, if you will. So, well, this is mandatory, which is Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
So those automatic government programs that we don’t vote on, but everything else that we do vote on, whether it’s defense, education, health care, agriculture, what have you, all of it is borrowed because total discretionary spending is only, I say only, but about $1.6 trillion. And again, our annual deficit is about $2.5 trillion or about $200 billion a month. So No. 1, to your point on the deficit, we’ve got to be willing to cut our discretionary spending year over year.
We still have the opportunity to do that as we come back end of this year, early next year and deal with our remaining spending bills. We’ve got to cut those at least to the level that was in the debt ceiling agreement, which was $1.59 trillion for total discretionary spending, which would be about a $50 billion cut over last year, which is not large by Washington standards, but it still would be unprecedented historic when Congress hasn’t cut spending in decades. So we’ve got to be willing to do that.
We also have to be willing to preserve and protect Social Security and Medicare for current retirees and future generations by reforming those, coming together on a bipartisan basis next year. We’re trying to form a debt commission to deal with that. Our Budget Committee has been willing to address that. I’m on that committee. I’m also on the Republican Study Committee’s budget task force. We’ve been willing to address that because Social Security and Medicare are driving the debt and they’re both on track to go bankrupt within the next 10 years.
Allen: Apart from border security and the economy, what are some of your other key priorities as chairman of the House of Freedom Caucus?
Good: Well, as previously noted, it is to change the, have a paradigm shift on how we deal with supplementals. Now, what supplementals are, as you know, is when we’ve got our budget, which is bankrupt, we’re overspending, but theoretical, we have a budget. And then we have these special or emergency or exceptional spending called supplemental, means supplement the budget, which means borrow more, don’t pay for it, to do something that you decide is important.
In this case, the $106 billion that the Senate and the White House want to do for, primarily for Ukraine, $62 billion for Ukraine. But then the other things that we’ve already mentioned. No. 1, we did it with Israel, we’ve got to do it going forward with any other supplementals that we deal with in these remaining 12 months … while we have the guaranteed majority.
Hopefully, American people will trust us with retaining and expanding it because of the work we do in the next year, and that we don’t fail them, we don’t let them down. But part of that is making sure supplementals are paid for, that we don’t borrow, and that they also are standalones where they rise or fall on their own merits thereof, or the lack thereof. Meaning, that’s why they want to put the $106 billion together.
So, if you’ve got Israel funding combined with Ukraine, then it makes it harder to vote against Ukraine funding because you want to help Israel. And that’s just the worst of Washington because Ukraine funding ought to stand on its own merits and members ought to be accountable for their vote on that, which, again, the speaker ought to refuse to bring to the floor until we secure the border.
The second thing I would just point to as far as additional beyond the border and beyond the spending, and then thirdly, the Israel and the Ukraine supplementals, how we want to deal with those, would be FISA reform.
Republicans have ran and campaigned on and railed against the abuse of our constitutional freedoms, our right to privacy, our right to be free from unlawful government surveillance, spying without a warrant, without probable cause as established by a judge or acknowledged by a judge. And yet here we find ourselves where FISA is expiring at the end of the year.
And you had Andy Biggs again from Arizona as the author of the bill, working closely with, again, Chip Roy and [Rep.] Jim Jordan and [Rep.] Warren Davidson to come up with a great FISA reform bill that would protect Americans constitutional rights and freedoms, but while yet empowering law enforcement to do what they need to do on our behalf. And unfortunately, because we didn’t come to agreement on the bill, there was another bill added the Intelligence Committee, which did not have the necessary forms.
And so we had two competing bills, and the speaker did not take a position on one of the bills, but let them both be debated. There wasn’t a consensus, unfortunately. I think there was some dishonesty coming out of those who were in favor of the Intelligence Committee’s bill because that was favored by all the federal law enforcement, career, veteran, and current.
And so instead, what they did was they took the FISA surveillance extension and they tacked it onto the NDAA, which was a bad NDAA also, because it had all the Senate priorities and none of the House Republican priorities in it, and they passed them both under suspension of the rules. So FISA surveillance has been extended to April without the reforms.
We’ve got to force those reforms and get the speaker to lead us in implementing those reforms in the good bill that was authored by Andy Biggs that protects American citizens. We can’t say, “Hey, we’re going to compromise our constitutional freedoms and rights in the name of trying to get safety.” Somebody famously said, “If you’ll trade liberty for safety, you’ll get and deserve neither.”
Allen: Well, Congressman, there is no shortage of major issues as we jump into 2024, and we certainly wish you all the best as you lead the House Freedom Caucus and tackle these major issues. Thank you for your time today. We really appreciate it.
Good: Thank you. Great to be with you.
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