If House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) tantrum yesterday was intended to get headlines, it was a striking success. News outlets everywhere were eager to tell the public that the Republican leader wants Senate Democrats “to get off their ass and do something.”
At issue, of course, is the dispute between the Republican-led House and the Republican-led Senate over funding for the Department of Homeland Security. When the Speaker, who still has no legislative accomplishments to his name, says he wants Dems to “get off their ass,” it’s little more than gibberish – Democrats aren’t being lazy; the congressional minority simply remains opposed to the anti-immigrant scheme cooked up by the majority.
Funny, Boehner thought filibusters were great when it was his party in the minority.
Nevertheless, the Speaker’s cursing notwithstanding, we’re left with a dispute that pits the Senate GOP against the House GOP, with each insisting the other has to do something before Homeland Security runs out of money in two weeks.
And if Boehner thought his whining yesterday might turn the tide, he was likely disappointed by the end of the day.
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk said Wednesday that his party made a mistake by picking a fight over President Barack Obama’s immigration actions, and said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) should bring up a “clean” bill to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded.“I generally agree with the Democratic position here. I think we should have never fought this battle on DHS funding,” the Illinois senator told a few reporters in the Capitol.
The Illinois Republican added, “I don’t think we should have ever attached these issues to DHS funding. I always thought the burden of being in the majority is the burden of governing.” This is, of course, the polar opposite of what Kirk told reporters literally the day before.
But even putting Kirk’s contradictions aside, the larger point to keep in mind is that there are growing cracks in the GOP’s facade.
While Kirk was telling reporters that his fellow Republicans should just give up and pass a clean bill, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) also broke ranks, adding, “Using a spending bill to poke a finger in the president’s eye is not a good move.”
At least one House Republican also wants his party to throw in the towel and end the nonsense.
“From a political perspective, in my view, you’re better off passing a clean Homeland Security appropriations bill because it makes a lot of important changes many of us on the Republican side wanted – more detention beds and all sorts of improvements to border control,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) told reporters.“I think it’s better politically to vote for a clean appropriations bill,” he added. “That’s better on a policy basis as well as on a political basis. I’m going to urge that we do the DHS bill and not a CR, but a CR is better than a shutdown.”
House Republican leaders have worked from a bizarre assumption: as the deadline neared, Democrats would give in, reward the GOP with everything it wants, and abandon millions of immigrants in order to make the far-right happy. As long as Republicans kept the pressure on and refused to budge, Boehner and Co. thought, Democrats would magically move to the right.
As became clear yesterday, it’s actually Republicans who are giving up on this gambit and endorsing the Democratic position.