When Republicans were handed control of congress last November they promised a new era of effective government. The dysfunction and gridlock that held the nation hostage was to be replaced with a new found spirit of co-operation and a resolve to get things done.
If the past few weeks are any indication…Republicans may have been handed the keys to the car but they have yet to learn how to drive. Last Friday served as glaring proof that they have yet to master the controls.
Republicans managed to avoid a politically devastating partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security but only after suffering through a humiliating defeat earlier in the day.
During the previous weeks there had been a heated debate within the Party about passing a DHS funding bill that excluded any monies for the president’s executive orders on immigration reform. Moderates in the caucus wanted to pass a clean funding bill and have the debate on immigration reform another day. Hardliners wanted nothing to do with the president’s executive orders and were willing to shut down the DHS rather than give the president what he wanted. The clock was ticking.
As the midnight deadline approached on Friday it became apparent that there was no solving the impasse. The Speaker floated the idea of passing a clean temporary bill that would fund the DHS for three weeks while buying his caucus more time to reach a consensus.
He thought he had the votes.
Speaker Boehner allowed the bill to come to the floor…only to see it fail. 52 Republicans crossed party lines to defeat the bill and in the process embarrass the Speaker.
Speaker Boehner and Republican leadership scrambled to find a palpable alternative before the midnight deadline. With the help of House Democrats a one week extension was passed and sent to the president for his signature. The bill was signed with ten minutes to spare. 55 Republicans voted against the Speaker.
House Democrats said they agreed with the short term extension because the Speaker had promised a vote on a clean bill next week. The Speaker’s office denied that any such promise was made.
This marks the third time this year that the Republican majority had to pull a bill because of internal conflicts within the Party. The question must be asked…if Republicans cannot agree among themselves how do they expect to reach an accord with Democrats.
And why the last minute skirmish over such an important funding resolution? The February 28th funding deadline was no secret. Like Christmas, everyone knew the date. So why all the last minute frenzy?
Why does this “new era of effective government” look more like a bunch of harried procrastinators on Christmas Eve?