Saturday, February 28, 2015

A House Divided

The plan was to force President Obama to either sign a bill repealing his executive actions on immigration or veto it and shut down the Department of Homeland Security. But things didn't work out that way.

Senator McConnell couldn't get the 6/7 Democratic votes he needed to pass a bill that paired funding for DHS to repealing the President's immigration actions and Speaker Boehner was unwilling to pass a stand-alone funding bill with primarily Democratic votes. So we got a one week reprieve before we do this all over again.

The good news is that we found out that neither Republican leader is willing to follow through with their threats to blow up hostages in order to force Democrats to give them what they want. So at some point, they'll pass a bill that funds DHS.

Here's the bad news:
After the Republicans gained control of the Senate and increased their margins in the House in the November elections, both Mr. Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, promised to reverse Congress’s pattern of hurtling from crisis to crisis, even over matters like appropriations that were once relatively routine.

But in their first big test, the Republican leaders often seemed to be working from different playbooks, at times verging on hostility, with each saying it was time for the other chamber to act.

The funding stalemate bodes poorly for any larger policy accomplishments this year, leaving lawmakers pessimistic that the 114th Congress will be able to work in a bipartisan fashion on more complicated issues.

The Office of Management and Budget has said that a vote to increase the nation’s debt limit will be necessary by mid- to late summer, and lawmakers were also hoping to take up trade policy, as well as at least a modest overhaul of the nation’s tax code — undertakings that now look increasingly imperiled.
When you've spent the last six years convincing your base that your opponent is a tyrant who is out to destroy the country and that his party's agenda is the tool by which he will do that, its pretty hard to actually govern in a system that is designed to require compromise.

I wouldn't say that any of that is a big surprise to those of us who have been paying attention. But what is surprising - and will be worth paying attention to over the next few months - is the apparent hostility between McConnell and Boehner. I don't think anyone saw that coming. But it does suggest that there is more than one fault line in this divided house.


  1. Once again, it needs to be shouted from the mountaintops--ELECTIONS MATTER.

    I wonder if those who smugly encouraged people not to vote in 2014 because "both parties are the same" are paying attention to what the hell is going on now in DC. Of course, it's exactly what President Obama and a few hard-headed realists warned would happen.

  2. Isn't the visible animosity between Boehner and McConnell at least partially a return to the mean? Remember early in Obama's first term when Nancy's House would pass a decent piece of legislation, then it would go to the Senate where 100 presidents would proclaim that "there's no way that will pass this body"? Neither chamber likes being forced by the other. They all feel that they are the most important and should be driving the bus.

    What does seem to be different is that too many Teabaggers think their duty is to break the system so that nothing gets done. Each chamber has factions that are convinced that they are the brainiacs that will bring about the Glorious Future of New Reaganstan (TM). But they can't get a majority, and they disagree with each other.

    I figure there will be lots of manufactured crises between now and November 8, 2016. Here's hoping there isn't a real one on top of them. :-(

    I enjoy your posts. I'm glad you're getting more visibility on WaMo!

    My $0.02.