Three attempts to pass an anti-immigrant DHS funding bill later, Republicans are no closer to figuring out a strategy for avoiding a government shutdown while not pissing off their base. Time is running out — there is a Congressional recess in February, which means that Republicans only have two weeks left to pass a clean funding bill (and they just wasted one taking three pointless votes).
At the Washington Post today, Eugene Robinson calls out the GOP’s failure at governing. The nation’s national security is at stake, and both John Boehner and Mitch McConnell knew that this anti-DACA/DAPA version of the funding bill would never make it into law. So why can’t Republicans just do the responsible thing already? As he writes:
Bang. Bang. Crash. That was the sound of the Republican majority in Congress shooting itself in both feet, then tripping over them.
At a moment of heightened concern that terrorists in the Middle East might stage or inspire attacks on U.S. soil, the GOP-controlled House and Senate are unable to agree on a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security. If the party’s aim is to show Americans it is ready to govern, we are witnessing an epic fail.
Rather than ensure the smooth operation of the agency charged with keeping the nation safe, Republicans would rather argue about a separate issue — immigration — and struggle over tactics for tilting at windmills. Meanwhile, a Feb. 27 deadline for passing an appropriations bill draws near. “I don’t believe we should shut down the Department of Homeland Security, given the threats that are obviously out there and the attacks on America,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday. But too few in his party are listening….
Indeed, the whole episode does seem pretty insane. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) knew the bill he sent to the Senate would be dead on arrival. McConnell knew he didn’t have the votes to pass it. And both leaders knew that if the legislation somehow made it through — perhaps when Democrats weren’t looking, or through divine intervention — there was no way Obama would ever sign it into law…
Let me suggest a different approach. First, Republicans must cross a big hurdle: acknowledging that with Democrats able to block legislation in the Senate and Obama still resident in the White House, passing legislation will require compromise. Once you get beyond that, the rest is easy.
No, you can’t repeal Obamacare, but you might be able to make it work better for your constituents. No, you can’t undo Obama’s immigration actions without passing legislation that the Senate and the president find acceptable. No, you can’t hijack funding for a crucial government agency without suffering political damage — and ultimately folding because you don’t have the cards.
The GOP apparently hopes the display of juvenile behavior we’re witnessing will inspire voters to give the party even more power in 2016 by electing a Republican president. Good luck with that.
Meanwhile, at Mother Jones, Kevin Drum points out how predictably Republicans are acting. Their antics right now are going to be far from helpful to them in 2016 and beyond. And yet they can’t seem to help themselves — they have to cut off their nose to spite their face every time. Even if the GOP nominates a strong candidate in 2016, he or she might not be able to overcome the party’s reputation. Drum continues:
President Obama wanted to accomplish two things with his immigration actions. Obviously he thought it was the right thing to do. Beyond that, though, he wanted to gain Latino support for Democrats and provoke an insane counterreaction from Republicans. He succeeded brilliantly on both counts. Republicans fell swiftly into his trap, and they show all signs of falling even further as primary season heats up. By the time 2016 rolls around, even a moderate guy like Jeb Bush is going to be so tainted by Republican craziness on immigration that he’ll get virtually no support from the Latino community.
It didn’t have to be this way. Republicans could have responded in a more measured way that would have blunted Obama’s actions. Instead they let themselves get suckered. Obama must be laughing his ass off right about now.