mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Lacking The Will, Not The Votes”: Yet Another Year Of A Do-Nothing Republican Congress

Election Day 2014 is 258 days away, which in political terms, is an extraordinarily long time. In theory, in 258 days, policymakers in Washington could identify several national priorities, consider worthwhile legislation, and pass meaningful bills into law.

But Robert Costa makes clear in a new report that for House Republicans, the year that is just now getting underway is already effectively over. Three weeks after President Obama presented a fairly ambitious agenda to Congress in a State of the Union address, the GOP House majority fully expects to get nothing done between now and November.

After a tumultuous week of party infighting and leadership stumbles, congressional Republicans are focused on calming their divided ranks in the months ahead, mostly by touting proposals that have wide backing within the GOP and shelving any big-ticket legislation for the rest of the year.

Comprehensive immigration reform, tax reform, tweaks to the federal health-care law – bipartisan deals on each are probably dead in the water for the rest of this Congress.

“We don’t have 218 votes in the House for the big issues, so what else are we going to do?” said Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), an ally of House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio).

I feel like this assumption – legislating simply isn’t feasible because major bills can’t get 218 votes in the lower chamber – comes up quite a bit. Note that Boehner recently told Jay Leno, “I like to describe my job as trying to get 218 frogs in a wheelbarrow long enough to pass a bill. It’s hard to do.”

Except, it’s not that hard to do.

What we’re hearing isn’t an explanation for inaction and passive indifference towards governing, but rather, an excuse. GOP leaders look at their to-do list and wistfully imagine how nice it would be to tackle priorities like immigration and tax reform, but they quickly do imaginary head-counts and throw up their arms in disgust. As Nunes put it, “We don’t have 218 votes in the House for the big issues, so what else are we going to do?”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

If House Republican leaders brought the popular, bipartisan immigration reform bill to the floor, it’d likely get 218 votes. If they brought the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the floor, it’d have a decent shot at 218, too. The same goes for a minimum-wage increase and a variety of other measures that the public would be glad to see.

The missing ingredient isn’t votes. It’s political will.

It’s precisely why House Democrats are increasingly invested in discharge petitions – if only a sliver of House Republicans agreed to help bring popular bills to the floor for an up-or-down vote, Dems believe Congress can do more than spin its wheels for the next 258 days.

It is, to be sure, a longshot, and discharge petitions very rarely work. But the alternative is yet another year of a do-nothing Congress.

Postscript: Costa’s piece also quoted former Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.), who said, “If you’re a Republican in Congress, you’ve learned that when we shut down the government, we lose. Now that we’ve had some success in avoiding another shutdown, our fortunes seem to be rising, so maybe we don’t want big things to happen.”

That’s quite an inspiring message: “Vote GOP 2014: We only shut down the government once, not twice.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 18, 2014

February 20, 2014 Posted by | Congress, Election 2014 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Spoiler Alert”: GOP Leaders Hope To Maintain Party Unity By Doing Nothing For The Rest Of The Year

The debt ceiling has been lifted, an omnibus spending bill has been passed, the farm bill is finished and a bipartisan budget has been signed by President Obama. All the must-pass legislation of this Congress, in other words, has been dealt with, leaving leaders in the House GOP with one big choice and three options.

The choice: What to do between now and November’s congressional elections.

The options:

  1. Push for immigration reform.
  2. Push for tax reform.
  3. Do absolutely nothing and hope that saying some combination of “Obamacare” and “Benghazi” every 30 seconds between now and November will be enough to maintain the Republican hold on the House and retake the majority in the Senate.

Spoiler alert! They’re going with option No. 3.

According to Robert Costa of the Washington Post, congressional GOP leadership has decided that in order to maintain party unity and put themselves in the best position to win in November, Republicans would be best off doing a whole lot of nothing for the next nine months.

“We don’t have 218 votes in the House for the big issues, so what else are we going to do?” California GOP Rep. Devin Nunes told Costa. “We can do a few things on immigration and work on our principles, but in terms of real legislating, we’re unable to get in a good negotiating position.”

While the GOP has a clear majority in the House, Nunes’ remarks reflect the divided nature of the Republican caucus, in which the Tea Party faction is too small to command a governing majority, but is large enough to keep less-conservative GOPers from getting anything done.

Republicans’ decision to wait out the remainder of 2014 is, according to GOP pollster and spinmeister Frank Luntz, “[A]n acknowledgment of where they stand, where nothing can happen in divided government so we may essentially have the status quo.”

“Significant immigration reform and fundamental tax reform are probably not going to happen,” he added.

That’s not to say that Republicans will literally do nothing, however. On the contrary, they plan to introduce a slew of bills that have no chance of passing but will supposedly win the support of undecided swing-voters. Costa reports that a bill to fully repeal and replace Obamacare is planned to be released in the spring or the summer, and that GOP leaders hope to introduce similarly DOA bills focused on jobs, energy and regulations.

“It’s a natural progression,” Minnesota Republican Rep. Vin Weber told Costa, speaking of the party’s new plan. “If you’re a Republican in Congress, you’ve learned that when we shut down the government, we lose. Now that we’ve had some success in avoiding another shutdown, our fortunes seem to be rising, so maybe we don’t want big things to happen.”

Now there’s a bumper-sticker. “Vote Republican in 2014: We don’t want big things to happen.”

 

By: Elias Isquith, Salon, February 18, 2014

February 19, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: