Speaker John Boehner appears to be on the verge of allowing a clean DHS funding bill to come up for a floor vote — and the only price was shooting the Republican brand in the foot.
Republicans promised responsible governance before taking their largest Congressional majority in decades. But instead they delivered internal chaos, bringing our nation’s security to the brink of a shutdown and reinforcing Mass-Deportation as the party’s sole immigration platform.
National editorials and op-eds have in particular targeted Boehner’s lack of leadership, for bowing to his party’s extremists while neglecting the will of the American people who wanted to see funding settled once and for all weeks ago. A round-up of the stinging headlines below.
Washington Post (Opinion): Boehner’s pointless leadership
House Speaker John Boehner needs to decide whether he wants to be remembered as an effective leader or a befuddled hack. So far, I’m afraid, it’s the latter.
Boehner’s performance last week was a series of comic pratfalls, culminating Friday in a stinging rebuke from the House Republicans he ostensibly leads. Boehner (R-Ohio) wasn’t asking for much: three weeks of funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which was hours from shutting down. He came away, humiliated, with just seven days’ worth of operating money for the agency charged with keeping Americans safe from terrorist attacks.
By any standard, the whole situation is beyond ridiculous. The government of the world’s leading military and economic power cannot be funded on a week-to-week basis. There’s no earthly excuse for this sorry spectacle — and no one to blame but Boehner.
As everyone knows, the speaker is being stymied by far-right conservatives who insist on using the Homeland Security funding measure as a vehicle to protest President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. And as everyone except those far-right conservatives knows, this is a self-defeating exercise in utter futility. The Senate won’t pass these immigration provisions. The president won’t sign them into law. For the House conservatives, this is not a winnable fight.
Boehner knows this. He also knows that the sprawling government department in charge of airport security, border protection and a host of other vital tasks has to be funded. And he knows that while failing to pass an appropriations bill would impact many Homeland Security functions, the agency charged with implementing Obama’s immigration orders — the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — gets about 95 percent of its funding from application fees, meaning it would be largely unaffected.
Finally, Boehner knows that a clean Homeland Security funding bill without the ridiculous immigration measures would surely pass the House. But he has refused to do his duty and bring such a bill to the floor.
We’re supposed to feel sorry for him. We’re supposed to boo-hoo about the fact that his majority refuses to fall in line — and might even take away his gavel if he dares to face reality. Mr. Speaker, would you please get over yourself?
Wall Street Journal (Editorial): Squandering a GOP Majority
The immigration fiasco raises the larger question of whether House Republicans can even function as a majority. Some backbenchers are whispering that they’ll work with Democrats to oust Mr. Boehner as Speaker if he doesn’t follow their shutdown strategy. Some are also plotting to take down a procedural rule, which would mean handing control to Democrats.
Mr. Boehner has made mistakes, one of which is bending too much to the shutdown caucus. But let’s say the no-compromise crowd did succeed in humiliating the Speaker, and he resigned. What then? Whom do coup plotters want to put in charge?
Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan has support across the House GOP, but why would he want to run a majority that is hostage to the whim of 50 Members who care more about appeasing talk radio than achieving conservative victories?
Republicans need to do some soul searching about the purpose of a Congressional majority, including whether they even want it. If they really think Mr. Boehner is the problem, then find someone else to do his thankless job. If not, then start to impose some order and discipline and advance the conservative cause rather than self-defeating rebellion.
National Journal (Opinion): The GOP’s Damage Done
Arguably the more likely effect of all this could be to make swing voters a bit more leery of giving Republicans unrestrained power. Do the events of the last week make independent and moderate voters any more likely to trust Republicans with all of the levers of power in Washington? While Mitt Romney won the independent vote in 2012 by 5 points, 50 percent to 45 percent, he lost the 41 percent of voters who self-identified as moderates by a whopping 15 percent, 56 percent to 41 percent. In 2012, 35 percent of the electorate called itself conservative, 25 percent liberal, and the balance was moderate. So did the roughly two-thirds of presidential-election-year voters who do not call themselves conservatives see something last week that would make them more likely to trust Republicans?
Of course, the 2016 presidential election is not this week, this month, or this year. It is 20 months away—a long time for any scar tissue from this event to heal. But that healing requires time and no further injury. Winning back the presidency will not be easy for Republicans, particularly when you consider that Democrats have won 18 states plus the District of Columbia in six consecutive elections, a total of 242 electoral votes—90 percent of the 270 needed to win.
Conversely, Republicans have won just 13 states with 102 electoral votes six times in a row—only 38 percent of the needed 270. That’s why even GOP members securely ensconced in strongly conservative and Republican states and congressional districts should be concerned about the fallout from this. There is no question that Republican congressional leaders, in the Senate and the House, understand this. It’s the followership that is causing the GOP heartburn.