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“Oil And Gas”: The Combustible Mix Of Ted Cruz And The House GOP

Congress will have to act fairly soon to approve a new stopgap spending measure, called a “continuing resolution,” to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month. Leaders in both parties and both chambers seem fairly optimistic – especially now that President Obama has postponed an announcement on immigration executive actions – that an ugly fight can be avoided.

But as we learned during the Republican shutdown last fall, congressional leaders don’t always get what they want.

Sen. Ted Cruz again met with a small group of House Republicans late Tuesday night, this time to discuss over pizza a conservative strategy on the continuing resolution.

While many of the Cruz meetings have seemed to lack a specific agenda or resolution, members trickled out of Tuesday’s nearly two-hour meeting repeating a similar refrain: We want a new expiration date on the CR.

The House GOP leadership seems to have adopted a let’s-not-screw-this-up-again strategy. They’ll advance a “clean” spending measure that will keep the government open through mid-December, then act again during the lame-duck session that will follow the midterm elections. No muss, no fuss.

Cruz isn’t sure he likes that plan. The far-right Texan, for example, yesterday suggested members use “any and all means necessary” to prevent President Obama from using his executive powers to further address immigration policy. In the context of the continuing resolution, that presumably means Cruz would like to see measures added to the spending bill to tie the president’s hands – and if those measures aren’t there, then the spending bill should be blocked, regardless of the consequences.

The senator and his allies also have concerns about the length of the CR and a possible extension of the Export-Import Bank.

Whether their concerns have the traction necessary to shut down the government again is another matter entirely.

The fact remains that most House Republicans appear eager to spend as little time as possible on Capitol Hill before the elections. The goal, in general, is to keep the government’s lights on and get back to the campaign trail. Luckily for the GOP, most voters no longer seem to remember last year’s ridiculous shutdown, and so long as Republicans don’t do it again, they probably won’t face any real consequences for their actions at all.

And so when Cruz interjects to argue that he and his far-right cohorts should do it again, it’s a tough sell for the Texas Republican.

Still, strange things happen when Cruz and House Republicans huddle for private meetings.

As we discussed earlier in the summer, Cruz met privately with a group of House Republicans in late July to urge them to ignore their own leadership and oppose their party’s border bill. Less than a day later, House GOP leaders were forced to pull their preferred legislation – too many of House Speaker John Boehner’s members were listening to Cruz, not him.

It’s part of a growing pattern. Last September, for example, Boehner presented a plan to avoid a government shutdown. Cruz met directly with House Republicans, urged them to ignore their own leader’s plan, and GOP House members followed his advice. A month later, Cruz held another meeting with House Republicans, this time in a private room at a Capitol Hill restaurant.

This year, in April, the Texas senator again gathered House Republicans, this time for a private meeting in his office. In June, less than an hour after House Republicans elected a new leadership team, Cruz invited House Republicans to join him for “an evening of discussion and fellowship.”

In July, as Congress prepared for some 11th-hour legislating before their month-long break, Cruz and House Republicans met to plot strategy, and a week later, they huddled once more.

The Texas Republican doesn’t seem to get along with other senators, but he spends an inordinate amount of time huddling with House Republicans who actually seem to listen to his advice.

This time, though, the odds are against Cruz’s success. Will the House GOP majority really move towards a government shutdown – two months before Election Day – in the hopes of blocking executive actions on immigration that haven’t even been introduced? The fact that Cruz and his allies would consider such a tactic is itself remarkable, but he’s nevertheless likely to lose this round.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Madow Blog, September 10, 2014

September 11, 2014 Posted by | GOP, House Republicans, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Republicans Have A Choice”: Their Donors, Their Right-Wingers, Or A Government Shutdown

It looks like the one big(gish) substantive consequence of Eric Cantor’s exit from the House Republican leadership will be the demise of the Export-Import bank. Or at least it looks very likely that John Boehner (who supports the Export-Import bank) will allow its authorization to lapse rather than pick a fight with conservative hardliners in the House.

The fact that the bank’s authorization expires on the same day that federal appropriations expire has analysts wondering whether it will end up at the center of a tug-of-war over funding the government, precipitating a shutdown. And that, in turn, has conservatives salivating over the prospect of “Democrats shut[ting] down the government” to protect corporate welfare.

First, allow me to disclose that I really don’t care very much what happens to the Export-Import bank, which subsidizes U.S. exports with loans and loan guarantees to insure against non-payment by importers. I guess the one convincing argument for reauthorizing it temporarily, or reforming and reauthorizing it, is that it probably is providing a modest boost to the economy at the moment, but generally liberals and hardline conservatives agree, for slightly different reasons, that the bank should go. Establishment Republicans, by contrast, really like the Ex-Im bank, which explains why Democrats are happy to set aside whatever misgivings they might have about it in order to exploit the division within the Republican conference.

That division is also why any talk of Democrats shutting down the government to protect Ex-Im is basically dishonest spin.

I think there’s almost no chance anyone will shut down the government over the Ex-Im bank, but if a shutdown happens, it will come as a consequence of Boehner wimping out, not of anything Democrats might do.

To my mind, there are at least four ways a fight over Ex-Im could play out within a fight over funding the government. Half of them end with the elimination of the Ex-Im bank. Only one ends with a government shutdown, and it would be on House Republicans.

I’ve simplified the processes involved here, for the sake of clarity, but in order of escalating complexity, the scenarios are as follows:

1. The House passes a bill to fund the government and sends it to the Senate, where Republicans successfully filibuster any attempt to reauthorize the Ex-Im bank. Harry Reid caves. Result: Ex-Im bank eliminated.
2. The House passes a bill to fund the government and sends it to the Senate where Democrats and Republicans tweak it to reauthorize the Ex-Im bank, among other things. It goes back to the House, where Boehner “caves” and puts it on the floor. Result: Ex-Im bank survives.

2a. The House passes a bill to fund the government and sends it to the Senate where Democrats and Republicans amend it to reauthorize the Ex-Im bank. It goes back to the House, where Boehner allows a vote on a measure to strip the Ex-Im authorization out of the legislation, but the measure fails thanks to the support of an overwhelming number of Democrats and a large contingent of Republicans. Result: Ex-Im bank survives, Republicans crow disingenuously about how Democrats are the real crony-capitalists.

3. The House passes a bill to fund the government and sends it to the Senate where Democrats and Republicans amend it to reauthorize the Ex-Im bank. It goes back to the House, where Boehner can neither muster the nerve to affirmatively strip the authorization (and anger donors) nor the nerve to put the whole bill on the floor (and anger conservatives). So he does nothing. Result: Boehner shuts down the government, Ex-Im bank in limbo.

4. The House passes a bill to fund the government and sends it to the Senate where Democrats and Republicans amend it to reauthorize the Ex-Im bank. It goes back to the House, where Boehner chooses his speakership over his big business allies, and rounds up Republican votes to strip the authorization out of the bill. The House sends the bill back to the Senate where Reid caves. Result: Ex-Im bank eliminated.

Note, I have baked into these scenarios an assumption that Senate Democrats won’t refuse to fund the government unless the Ex-Im bank survives because most Democrats a) Don’t really care that much about the bank, b) are mainly just interested in exploiting Republican divisions, c) want to make a point to conservative big business donors about the incredibly bad investment they’ve made in House Republicans, and d) aren’t an inherently reactionary bunch like their counterparts in the House GOP.

For what it’s worth, I think option 2a is the kabuki show we’re most likely to see. I think the GOP leadership’s overweening interest in not shutting down the government will carry here, which means scenario 3 is the least likely. But either way, Boehner and Mitch McConnell will have to make some fairly consequential decisions in the next few months.

 

By: Brian Beutler, The New Republic, June 27, 2014

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Campaign Donors, House Republicans, John Boehner | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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