Although Republican leaders love to talk tough when they’re the center of attention, they quickly side with Democrats when they think nobody’s watching. Case in point: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to cave on funding for the DHS:
McConnell announced [Tuesday] that the Senate would vote on a “clean” bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security past Friday, as well as a separate measure freezing President Obama’s November executive actions to shield certain illegal immigrants from deportation.
In other words, he’s going to give President Obama what he wants.
Luckily for conservatives, there still are some Republicans in Congress and the Senate who aren’t willing to let McConnell get away with it. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) responded angrily that he does not plan to vote for the bill, whether McConnell wants him to or not. “If I was a donor to some of these senators that just won election and was told things would be different in a new Senate, I’d be pretty pissed. We put Harry Reid back in charge of the Senate again?”
He went on: “It’s stupid. It doesn’t go anywhere. He knows that. Does he take us all for a fool that somehow that’s going to solve the problem that he was going to fight tooth and nail against?”
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) already let McConnell know that House Republicans will turn their backs on him if pushed: “The Senate majority leader’s plan to divorce the funding bill from the unlawful actions it is restricting is tantamount to surrender, and won’t meet with support in the People’s House.”
Although McConnell could ordinarily get away with giving into Obama’s demands once again, he probably faces a Republican revolt this time. The reason? Numerous conservative Republicans are gearing up for the presidential elections. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is one of them. And no, he isn’t planning to take any prisoners on what he hopes will be his way to the presidency:
Leadership’s current plan — to pass clean DHS funding and separate legislation barring executive amnesty — is a mistake. Congress is obliged to use every constitutional check and balance we have to rein in President Obama’s lawlessness, and that includes both our confirmation authority over nominees and the power of the purse.
Lately, Cruz has become one of the most outspoken and loved Republicans in the Senate. He and his supporters have a strong presence on social media, where one after another “Ted Cruz for president“-group is created. These groups have attracted a large following; see for instance the Facebook group Ted Cruz 45: more than 10,000 conservatives joined that group in a mere three weeks’ time. This proves that conservative voters are hungry for someone who is one of them, who is willing to stand for something and who is principled to his core.
The question now is whether Cruz, Salmon, Huelskamp and others can unite and fight back against McConnell’s plan together and prevent House Speaker John Boehner from following his lead. If they do, McConnell will be humiliated like never before. If not, well, then I guess that conservatives will have even more evidence that Republican leaders don’t care about them and their values. The good news? They can then proceed to open the attack on McConnell and Boehner in an attempt to remove them from power. After all, why would conservatives continue to settle for a Republican leadership that sells them out whenever it can?