Republicans in Congress are off to a less than flying start after a month in power, dividing their own conference more than Democrats. Take the response to President Obama ’s immigration order, which seems headed for failure if not a more spectacular crack-up...Ouch! That one left a mark.
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...
It’s not too soon to say that the fate of the GOP majority is on the line...This is no way to run a Congressional majority, and the only winners of GOP dysfunction will be Mr. Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.
And right on cue, the "restrictionist wing" does exactly as predicted. Exhibit A: Sen. Ted Cruz.
Sen. Ted Cruz blamed Republican leaders Tuesday for his party's failing strategy to overturn President Barack Obama's immigration actions, arguing that if they had listened to him and more forcefully confronted Obama they would be succeeding.As I've been saying all along, Sen. McConnell is now experiencing what Speaker Boehner has been facing for four years...the fact that Republicans are serially divided amongst themselves. And when it comes to their "restrictionist wing" (what I have been calling the lunatic caucus), leadership will never be extreme enough to assuage them.
Speaking to a few reporters in the Capitol outside a Senate GOP lunch meeting, the Texas Republican said party leaders gave "away virtually all of our leverage" by funding most of the government through September, and didn't adopt his plan to grind nearly all nominations to a halt unless Obama surrendered.
Cruz said he warned all along that that was "a strategy designed to lose."
"My objections were overruled," he said. "Leadership proceeded nonetheless down this path and now it's incumbent on leadership to explain what their path is to what they stated the end goal would be."
Senator McConnell is not going to let the February deadline pass and allow DHS to shut down. It sounds like he still hasn't outlined a plan to avoid that. But whatever it turns out to be, he (like Boehner so often has done) will have to rely on what President Obama called a "common sense caucus" facilitated by a compromise with Democrats.
That will only further outrage the lunatic caucus - who will ramp up their challenges during the next round. Rinse and Repeat.
Now that the WSJ has weighed in on this failure, we will all patiently await Ron Fournier's endless columns asking, "What If McConnell Can't Lead?"
UPDATE: Apparently Republicans are willing to sink even deeper into failure with McConnell and Boehner actually engaging in finger-pointing.
"I think it'd be pretty safe to say we're stuck, because of Democratic obstruction on the Senate side," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters Tuesday. "I think it's clear we can't go forward in the Senate. And so the next move, obviously, is up to the House."If that's what Republicans are calling leadership at this point, they're in even worse trouble that I thought.
Translation: The ball is back in the House's court.
That's not sitting well with Speaker John Boehner. The Ohio Republican is standing by the House-passed DHS funding bill and his office responded to McConnell by saying Tuesday there's "little point" in further House action until there's movement in the Senate.