House Republicans agreed to fund the Department of Homeland Security for 7 days, after failing to pass a measure earlier that would have avoided a DHS shutdown for 3 weeks.
That bill, supported by Speaker Boehner and 200 Republicans, was blown up when 52 of their GOP colleagues joined the Democrats in voting against it. To say that many of those 200, who were left hanging by the 52 rebels, were mad is an understatement. Rep. Peter King had some choice words for the naysayers:
Republican Congressman Peter King said today that he’s incredibly frustrated with the “self-righteous, delusional” wing of his party that may shut down the Department of Homeland Security because they’re “obsessed” with stopping President Obama‘s immigration action. King appeared on MSNBC’s online platform Shift to tell Luke Russert that while he also has serious problems with the immigration action too, the GOP shouldn’t be playing politics on a life-or-death issue like this.
King said (hours earlier, before the initial failed House vote tonight on DHS funding) conservatives are fighting a losing battle and “putting people’s lives at risk” for an issue where they gain nothing. He explained that in conference, he said, “I’ve head it with this self-righteous, delusional wing of the party.”
All of this leads to the unsatisfactory conclusion that nothing at all has changed. Democratic senators will still block a DHS funding bill containing the amendments to defund the president’s immigration executive orders. House Republicans will apparently vote down any funding bill that doesn’t contain those riders. And despite the fact that it is the Democrats blocking the funding bill, the Republicans will get the blame.
Their insistence on using the DHS funding as leverage to reverse or undermine the president’s immigration agenda leaves Boehner in a tough spot.
At some point, he could potentially resolve the stand-off by steam-rolling his rank-and-file to work with Democrats and pass the kind of long-term “clean” funding bill they want. There was speculation in the run-up to the late-Friday vote that he and Pelosi had struck a deal to do exactly that next week. (A spokesman for Boehner denies this.)
But on the Senate side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has already met Democrats’ demands to deal with the two issues separately. With his blessing, the Senate on Friday approved a longer-term, stand-alone DHS funding bill. However, House Republicans stalled that bill, voting instead for a so-called conference committee — a way for lawmakers to hammer out a compromise measure.
But Senate Democrats have called this a “non-starter,” and are trying to block it, teeing up another set of votes on that next week – unless the House takes a different tack. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats on Friday also blocked a separate bill undoing Obama’s immigration actions.
The complicated debate leaves unclear how lawmakers can resolve the impasse, with Democrats not budging and Republicans divided over how far to take their fight against Obama’s immigration plan, which gives millions of illegal immigrants work permits and a deportation reprieve.
Some argue that with a federal judge, for now, blocking the plan from going forward, there’s less urgency to use legislation to achieve the same goal. Other conservative Republicans say the legislation is necessary.
“Some folks just have a harder time facing political reality than others,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., speaking of other Republicans.
Since political reality is so unpalatable at this point, the GOP rebels will stick with the purely symbolic action of opposing the funding bill with the immigration orders intact. There is a legitimate question of whether Boehner can continue serving as speaker if he blows up his caucus by making a deal with Democrats to pass the funding bill. It’s something Boehner has to consider as he tries to find some way to fund DHS without igniting a full scale GOP civil war.
House Speaker John Boehner faces a looming threat from conservatives to oust him as speaker, and it’s tying his hands on funding the Department of Homeland Security.
Congress passed a one-week extension of funding just hours before the deadline on Friday night. It was that fear fueling Boehner’s resistance to a longer-term bill, as it might prompt backlash from conservatives. President Barack Obama signed the bill, which funds the Department of Homeland Security through Friday.
Two senior House Republican sources tell CNN there’s a serious concern among those close to the Speaker that if he allowed a vote on a clean DHS funding bill, conservatives would make a motion to vacate the chair, a direct challenge to his job.
Conservatives have demanded that any funding bill include a provision rolling back President Barack Obama’s executive action delaying deportations for illegal immigrants. Democrats, meanwhile, remain staunchly opposed to tying the two together, and that fight has kept Congress in a stalemate over the bill all week, sending DHS right up to the funding deadline.
While the Senate passed a clean bill funding DHS through the end of the fiscal year this week, it appears conservative opposition is currently discouraging Boehner from bringing up a similar bill in the House.
Moderate Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent acknowledged he has also heard about conservatives using the fight over this DHS bill to try to remove Boehner.
“Right now, we have to get serious, I think a lot of people better get serious about governing and it’s time for all of these, you know D.C. games to end. I mean all these palace coups or whatever the hell is going on around here has to end, and we have to get down to business of governing.”
As usual, whenever the idea of ousting Boehner is floated the question of who should succeed him forces his critics to drop the idea. Boehner’s successor would almost certainly be as unacceptable to conservatives as Boehner himself. Conservatives have yet to coalesce behind a single candidate, leaving Boehner’s allies — including the #2 Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy — to back Boehner’s replacement.
It will probably come down to the wire again, but next time, Boehner will probably cave and bring to the floor a clean DHS funding bill, without the immigration orders defunded, that will be supported by most Democrats.