Funding for the Department of Homeland Security runs out in two weeks, and a painfully obvious solution is already available: Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the White House, already agree on spending levels. If lawmakers sends President Obama a bill funding DHS with the agreed upon spending, he'll sign it and everyone can move on to the next crisis.
But far-right GOP lawmakers have decided to make this far more dangerous
than it needs to be.
Republicans in Congress have gotten nowhere in trying to block President Barack Obama's orders easing deportations. And John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are in a tug-of-war over who should be first to give up their strategy. Republicans tried to use a House-passed bill funding the Department of Homeland Security to force the president to abandon the immigration action he announced in November. After Democrats blocked the measure three times in the Senate last week, neither Republican leader wants the job of revising the party's approach.
House Republicans passed a DHS spending bill with additional language that destroys the Obama administration's immigration policy. Did they honestly think that was likely to succeed? Probably not, but they don't seem to care. Senate Republicans brought the House bill to the floor three times
last week, and as expected, the Senate Democratic minority blocked it with a filibuster each time. Did Republican leaders expect a different outcome each time? Probably not, but like the House leadership, they don't seem to care either.
At this point, the GOP-led Senate says it's up to the GOP-led House to pass a bill that can become law, since this far-right gambit is "stuck
." House Republicans, meanwhile, say it's up to the Senate
to pass a bill, which the lower chamber will consider (and probably defeat for not being right-wing enough).
In other words, Senate Republicans are telling House Republicans, "Fix this before it's too late." To which House Republicans respond to Senate Republicans, "No, you fix this before it's too late."
All the while, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is off in the corner, arguing that if only everyone would listen to him
, everything would be fine.
As for what happens now, I haven't the foggiest idea. More importantly, though, Republicans haven't the foggiest idea. They created this mess on purpose, setting up a partisan showdown that never made any sense, and wouldn't you know it, GOP lawmakers managed to fall into the trap they set for themselves without a way out.
Earlier this week, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal
, effectively the embodiment of the Republican establishment in D.C., could hardly contain its disappointment
with GOP lawmakers' ineptitude.
If Homeland Security funding lapses on Feb. 27, the agency will be pushed into a partial shutdown even as the terrorist threat is at the forefront of public attention with the Charlie Hebdo and Islamic State murders. Imagine if the Transportation Security Administration, a unit of DHS, fails to intercept an Islamic State agent en route to Detroit. So Republicans are facing what is likely to be another embarrassing political retreat and more intra-party recriminations. The GOP's restrictionist wing will blame the leadership for a failure they share responsibility for, and the rest of America will wonder anew about the gang that couldn't shoot straight.... This is no way to run a Congressional majority.
When someone like me offers this assessment, I don't imagine congressional Republicans care. When the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal described their own GOP allies as "the gang that couldn't shoot straight," congressional Republicans would be wise to take note.