House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 18, 2014.
Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP

House GOP leaders struggle with their one job

As Internet memes go, “you had one job” is my personal favorite. The basic idea is finding examples of people who are given one, fairly simple task to complete, but who manage to screw it up in embarrassing fashion. There’s no shortage of funny incidents to document the phenomenon.
 
Less fun, however, is watching members of the House Republican leadership fail at their one job. Roll Call reported overnight:
A marathon markup of House Republicans’ proposed 2016 federal budget ended after midnight Wednesday with no resolution between the two GOP factions – defense hawks on one side, fiscal conservatives on the other – determined to put their own, seemingly incompatible stamps on the largely symbolic spending plan.
 
Members and aides weren’t immediately sure early Thursday if or when the House Budget panel would reconvene to try again to move the budget out of committee and onto the floor.
 
The chaos signaled a minor vote-counting crisis had escalated into another full-scale meltdown between GOP leaders and fiscal conservatives.
The process is supposed to be much easier than this. Last year, for example, the chairman of the House Budget Committee – Paul Ryan, at the time – unveiled his blueprint, which was soon after embraced by the committee’s GOP majority. The plan was on the floor and clearing the chamber soon after.
 
Last night, however, the process broke down, with Republicans fighting among themselves. One faction is desperate to use budget tricks and gimmicks to increase defense spending, while a rival contingent wants lower spending on everything, including the military. (Senate Republicans are also divided and represent their own distinct clique.)
 
The funny part, however, came late last night when GOP leaders showed up to “fix” the problem.
 
National Journal reported that House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) told the Republican leadership that his committee members weren’t prepared to go along with a plan to increase Pentagon spending further. Party leaders didn’t believe him.
Skeptical of his claims, Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry went over his head and checked with committee members on their own. They found that according to their tally, an amendment would be able to pass, the aides said. So around 7 p.m., the committee released an amendment from Rep. Todd Rokita that appeared to be crafted to appease defense hawks’ concerns.
 
But Scalise and McHenry seem to have miscounted – leading to the recess, an intense closed-door meeting and ultimately, calling it a night without a vote on Rokita’s amendment.
Defense hawks within the GOP say they won’t support the budget plan without increased spending. Deficit hawks within the GOP say they won’t support the budget plan with the increased spending.
 
Scalise and his whip team thought they knew what they were doing, but they stumbled despite having just one job: counting votes.
 
It’s likely House Republicans will eventually figure something out and a far-right budget will eventually pass, but in the meantime, the GOP leadership’s reputation continues to deteriorate.
 

Budget, Budget Policy, Budgets, House Of Representatives, House Republicans and Steve Scalise

House GOP leaders struggle with their one job