“Rolling Out The Welcome Wagon For The Bad Guys”: It May Be Speaker John Boehner And The GOP Who Do Not Love America
Rudy, oh dear Mr. Former Mayor, it seems that that you got it all wrong when you accused the president of not loving America. It’s so hard to watch you spout such stuff because you were such a respected man. In fact, you were one of the icons that had helped lead America through the tragedy of 9/11. Hope that the PR was worth it. Obama not only loves this country and its people dearly, but is doing his best to keep us safe.
If someone is guilty of not loving America, sadly it’s probably Speaker John Boehner together with the right wing of the House GOP. You know that actions speak volumes, and they appear to want to do this country great harm and jeopardize national security. This was the wrong message to send to our allies, and moreover, to our enemies. They have literally rolled out the welcome wagon for the bad guys worldwide. It’s like saying come on down, folks, because we don’t have our act together.
What an embarrassment he and his merry band of new legislators have wrought — before signing an eleventh hour reprieve of one week to cut off funding for the Department of Homeland Security. This makes you want to weep because it is politically motivated. It is no wonder that nationwide polling for Congress is in the toilet, and voter turnout was at an all-time low this past November. Former leader, Eric Cantor, must be breathing a deep sigh of relief or dancing a happy dance. It is despicable that the funding for the Department of Homeland Security is being held hostage, particularly during these times.
And sadly, it will only get worse next week with the Speaker’s scheduled visit to Congress of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It has broken protocol with the White House and created a great big rift in the American Jewish community and between the members of the Congress — which was so unnecessary. The United States continues to be Israel’s strongest ally, and its support has never wavered. There is an old Yiddish saying which amounts to “don’t go looking for trouble because unfortunately it will find you.” So Speaker Boehner, maybe it’s okay that you and your cohorts don’t love America, but we beg – do no further harm.
By: Michelle Kraus, The Blog, The Huffington Post, March 1, 2015
Mitch McConnell knows what John Boehner doesn’t, namely that when you have to do something painful, it’s best to get it over with quickly. Rip off the Band-aid, chop the zombie-bite-infected leg off with one blow, just do it and move on. But we’re a day away from a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, and Boehner can’t bring himself to do it.
So here’s the current status. McConnell decided that the Senate would take two votes, one on a “clean” DHS funding bill—i.e., one without a rider reversing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration—and one addressing just those executive actions. That way DHS stays open, Republicans get to cast their symbolic vote against Obama, and everybody goes home. The funding bill is already moving through. And of course, Tea Partiers are outraged (here’s one colorful post from Erick Erickson entitled “Eunuch Mitch McConnell Squeals Like a Pig“). Which, I’m pretty sure, doesn’t bother McConnell all that much, because he knows what’s in his party’s interest and what isn’t.
Boehner is still saying “nuh-uh!” But to what end? What does dragging this out actually accomplish for him? Here’s a report from Politico:
Boehner is playing a game of political survival. Most of his inner circle knows that the House will be forced to swallow a clean DHS funding bill at some point. But if the speaker wants to keep conservatives from launching a rebellion, it may be too early to capitulate. Boehner is aware of the perilous situation he’s facing—which is why, in private conversations with lawmakers, he’s telling them to “stay tuned” without tipping his hand on his next move.
Speaking to his caucus Wednesday, Boehner said he hadn’t spoken to McConnell in two weeks, an apparent attempt to distance himself from the Senate GOP leader’s plan. It seemed to highlight what will likely be an unfolding dynamic in the coming Congress, particularly over fiscal matters: The Senate will be forced to cut deals on politically toxic issues, and Boehner will ultimately be forced to accept them in order to avoid potential crises.
So the outcome is inevitable, but Boehner seems to be operating on the assumption that if he holds out a while longer, the crazy caucus will be less angry with him. And when has that ever worked? We’ve been through this multiple times now, and at the end of it they dislike him just as much as they did at the beginning.
There are three things Boehner could be thinking. The first is that if there’s a partial shutdown, the administration will give in and undo Obama’s executive actions. No one is dumb enough to believe that. The second is that he or someone else will have an extraordinary flash of insight and devise a clever stratagem that will get the Republicans everything they want. That’s possible in theory, but highly unlikely to say the least. The third is that this shutdown fight will end the same way all the other shutdown fights ended: with Boehner giving in and allowing a vote on a bill to end the crisis, a bill that passes with the support of Democrats. He will be decried as a capitulator and a RINO, and nothing will have changed.
But is Boehner really in a “perilous situation”? The reason he’s still the speaker isn’t that he’s done such a masterful job of keeping Tea Partiers happy. It’s that nobody else wants the job. When he retained the position in January, 25 Republicans voted for somebody else, but the votes were entirely symbolic. There’s no other candidate, there’s no rebellion planned. He’s secure in his miserable position.
So really, Mr. Speaker, just rip off the Band-aid. Hold the vote to fund DHS. We all know how this ends.
By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, February 26, 2015
The plan was to force President Obama to either sign a bill repealing his executive actions on immigration or veto it and shut down the Department of Homeland Security. But things didn’t work out that way.
Senator McConnell couldn’t get the 6/7 Democratic votes he needed to pass a bill that paired funding for DHS to repealing the President’s immigration actions and Speaker Boehner was unwilling to pass a stand-alone funding bill with primarily Democratic votes. So we got a one week reprieve before we do this all over again.
The good news is that we found out that neither Republican leader is willing to follow through with their threats to blow up hostages in order to force Democrats to give them what they want. So at some point, they’ll pass a bill that funds DHS.
After the Republicans gained control of the Senate and increased their margins in the House in the November elections, both Mr. Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, promised to reverse Congress’s pattern of hurtling from crisis to crisis, even over matters like appropriations that were once relatively routine.
But in their first big test, the Republican leaders often seemed to be working from different playbooks, at times verging on hostility, with each saying it was time for the other chamber to act.
The funding stalemate bodes poorly for any larger policy accomplishments this year, leaving lawmakers pessimistic that the 114th Congress will be able to work in a bipartisan fashion on more complicated issues.
The Office of Management and Budget has said that a vote to increase the nation’s debt limit will be necessary by mid- to late summer, and lawmakers were also hoping to take up trade policy, as well as at least a modest overhaul of the nation’s tax code — undertakings that now look increasingly imperiled.
When you’ve spent the last six years convincing your base that your opponent is a tyrant who is out to destroy the country and that his party’s agenda is the tool by which he will do that, its pretty hard to actually govern in a system that is designed to require compromise.
I wouldn’t say that any of that is a big surprise to those of us who have been paying attention. But what is surprising – and will be worth paying attention to over the next few months – is the apparent hostility between McConnell and Boehner. I don’t think anyone saw that coming. But it does suggest that there is more than one fault line in this divided house.
By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 28, 2015
“GOP To DHS; Governing Is Hard”: Republicans Are Edging Ever Closer To A Totally Predictable Shutdown
Weeks after winning the Senate, soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a nice thought:
“We will not be shutting the government down or threatening to default on the federal debt,” he said.
With less than two weeks before yet another government shutdown, chaos remains and dysfunction is still normal.
The latest manufactured drama is over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which is scheduled to expire on February 27.
The scenario should sound familiar:
Much like the government shutdown over defunding Obamacare, House Republicans are refusing to pass any bill that funds DHS that doesn’t contain a provision overturning the Obama administration’s executive orders on undocumented immigrants and Senate Democrats are refusing to debate any DHS funding bill that has this language.
(Nevermind, the bill would be vetoed the minute it hit the president’s desk. This isn’t about the winning—it’s about the game.)
The result is a partisan stalemate in which neither side will blink.
And once again, this was all by design.
This showdown was set up at the end of 2014 with the debate over “the Cromnibus,” the controversial budget bill that funded the government for most of 2015.
Many conservative Republicans were loath to agree to any measure that funded the government didn’t overturn the executive orders.
Democrats refused to go along with anything other than a bill that funded DHS and omitted the executive order language.
The language would go beyond the controversial executive order that Obama issued in 2014 to allow 5 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States and also apply to the “DREAMers,” a subset of illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States while they were underage and have clean criminal records. DREAMers were allowed to stay in the United States in an executive order that the administration issued in 2012.
To avoid another government shutdown, a compromise was reached before lawmakers went home for the holidays.
Most of the federal government would be funded for a year but the DHS would only receive sufficient appropriations to last through the end of February.
The idea was that conservatives could force their standoff on immigration then and surely, no one would want to let the government agency responsible for keeping the United States safe go dark.
But, of course, that is not the case.
To add more futility to their cause, the DHS will keep on running even without being funded. Workers in key agencies like the Border Patrol and the Transportation Safety Administration are considered “essential” and will report to work regardless—they just won’t be paid to do their jobs.
While many other DHS employees could be furloughed, this limitation prevents a shutdown from turning into an immediate crisis and reduces the cost.
On Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner seemed ready to embrace a potential shutdown and unwilling to consider a compromise.
He told Fox News, “The House has acted. We’ve done our job.” Boehner then said, “Senate Democrats are the ones putting us in this precarious position. It’s up to Senate Democrats to get their act together.”
But it’s not just Senate Democrats who think shutting down the DHS is a bad idea. Senate Republicans—John McCain, Jeff Flake and Mark Kirk, to name a few—also have expressed problems with using the DHS as a way to tweak the president.
The impasse is also handing Senate Democrats a powerful political weapon.
In a statement last week Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid said, “The Republican Congress is a mess, pure and simple. Democrats are happy to help our Republican colleagues resolve their problems but the first step is for Republican leaders to do the right thing and pass a clean bill to fund Homeland Security.”
The political dilemma for Republicans is that while a shutdown plays well with their base, it gives them relatively little leverage.
Most key functions of the DHS will be funded regardless and the result of past GOP brinkmanship is that Republicans are likely to bear the burden of the blame for any shutdown.
It also creates peculiar consequences in the 2016 presidential race as well.
It combines two delicate political issues of immigration reform and a government shutdown into one package and places more moderate GOP hopefuls in a bind.
Do they want to let what Republicans universally believe is an unconstitutional executive order by the Obama administration stand or do they want to be put in a position of cutting funding to the DHS in the aftermath of a wave of Islamist terror attacks against American allies and interests.
The result is a familiar dysfunction.
Democrats won’t yield on Obama’s executive orders—a move that would risk undermining one of the most important actions of the president’s second term and lead to the potential deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants.
Republicans can’t alienate their conservative base yet again by compromising on what has become such a point of principle.
This latest episode might frustrating in the short term but, like the last shutdown, it has a predictable end:
It’s not a question of whether Republicans will cave and fund the DHS, but when.
By: Ben Jacobs, The Daily Beast, February 17, 2015
“A Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card”: Boehner Offered Free Pass Out Of Shutdown Mess, But He Doesn’t Want To Take It
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s Monday night ruling temporarily blocking President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program provided a political lifeline for congressional Republicans. But whether or not they’re smart enough to take it remains unclear.
For weeks, Republicans have been hurtling towards another catastrophic shutdown debacle. Furious over President Obama’s immigration action, congressional Republicans devised an illogical scheme to fight back: They would separate the Department of Homeland Security from December’s government funding bill, and then use it as a hostage. Unless President Obama abandons his policy by February 27, DHS would enter a partial shutdown.
The strategy never had a prayer of working, for several reasons. President Obama has long since proven that he is done giving in to Republican ransom demands. Shutting down DHS would not actually do anything to stop President Obama’s deferral plan. And the American public was always going to blame the GOP for any shutdown crisis. (This was confirmed by a CNN poll released Tuesday, which found that 53 percent of Americans would hold Republicans responsible, while just 30 percent would blame the president, and 13 percent would blame both.) Unless they planned to never pay DHS workers again, the only possible outcome for the GOP was embarrassing defeat.
But still, Republicans went all in. One month ago, the House passed a bill linking DHS funding with blocking DAPA. Although it repeatedly failed to pass the Senate, House Speaker John Boehner insisted that “the House has done its job,” and has flatly refused to consider a clean funding bill. Meanwhile, even if the Senate somehow does pass a bill limiting Obama’s authority, the president would veto it. A politically catastrophic shutdown seemed increasingly inevitable.
So one might think that House Republicans would welcome Judge Hanen’s ruling as a get-out-of-jail-free card. With DAPA blocked, pending appeal, they could pass a clean DHS funding bill with a clean conscience, tell their constituents that the matter is in the courts’ hands now, and save the fight for another day.
But it’s never that easy with the Republican caucus.
Speaker Boehner’s reaction to the ruling suggests that he’s still committed to taking this all the way.
“The president said 22 times he did not have the authority to take the very action on immigration he eventually did, so it is no surprise that at least one court has agreed,” Boehner said in a statement. “We will continue to follow the case as it moves through the legal process. Hopefully, Senate Democrats who claim to oppose this executive overreach will now let the Senate begin debate on a bill to fund the Homeland Security Department.”
In case there was any doubt, Democrats are still not ready to begin debate on forcing a maximum-deportation policy on the White House.
“It’s perfectly appropriate to take this issue to court, but it is completely unacceptable for Republicans to hold up funding for the Department of Homeland Security while the case wends its way through the legal system,” Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement. “This procedural ruling, in our opinion, is very unlikely to be upheld, but regardless of the outcome Democrats remain united in our belief that funding for the Department of Homeland Security should not be used as a ransom by Republicans, period.”
Republicans clearly learned the wrong lessons from their last government shutdown, which they overcame at the ballot box in November. They are extremely unlikely to be so lucky again in 2016, when the elections will be fought on a much friendlier terrain for Democrats. On Monday night, Judge Hanen threw the GOP a lifeline; they’d be wise to grab it.
By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, February 17, 2015