House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday he's "certainly" willing to allow funding for the Department of Homeland Security to lapse in less than two weeks. The Ohio Republican called on Senate Democrats to act on funding legislation the House passed earlier this year, indicating that his chamber won't produce an alternative measure.
As a result of a truly ridiculous budget scheme congressional Republicans cooked up for themselves, current funding for the Department of Homeland Security will be exhausted literally next week. John Harwood noted yesterday that avoiding a shutdown is a "rock-bottom, de minimis test of GOP governance."
It is a test Republicans are poised to fail on purpose.
The beleaguered Speaker's feeble talking point is, "The House has acted. We've done our job." Boehner surely knows his argument is absurd -- the lower chamber passed a right-wing bill that House Republicans knew couldn't pass the Senate and couldn't earn President Obama's signature. In other words, the GOP majority "acted" by passing a bill that everyone knew was doomed to fail.
Boehner went on to say the Republican-led House and Republican-led Senate can't fund Homeland Security because of Democrats "are the ones putting us in this precarious position," which really is as pitiful as it sounds.
In the immediate aftermath of terrorist violence in Paris last month, the Speaker reassured Americans, saying, "I don't believe that the funding of the [Department of Homeland Security] is in fact at risk." As of yesterday, the hapless Republican leader appears to now believe the exact opposite.
Of course, there's still plenty of time for lawmakers to work something out, right? Well, it's a funny story.
The funding deadline is next week, which would suggest this week is the critical juncture for real work to get done, but as it turns out, congressional Republicans are taking this week off. You see, lawmakers worked six abbreviated work weeks, punctuated with four- and five-day weekends, in a row. Naturally, it was time for a week off, despite a looming deadline.
For what it's worth, while some policy disputes are hard to solve, this one's easy. Republicans and Democrats, the White House and Congress, all agree on Homeland Security funding levels. All Congress has to do is provide the agency with the agreed upon resources. That's what the president wants; it's what the Senate wants; it's what House Democrats want; and according to at least one House Republican, a bipartisan majority in both chambers could pass a "clean," straightforward funding bill that would end all of this nonsense.
All Boehner and his cohorts have to do is stop playing games. According to the Speaker's comments yesterday, that's not going to happen. Republicans believe they'll be blamed for shutting down Homeland Security, and they're entirely right. More importantly, they'll deserve it.
Postscript: Boehner will, of course, make an effort to blame the Democratic minority for this fiasco. But we already know that the Speaker realizes it's his party that bears responsibility for these shutdowns.