Louisiana’s Cromnibus Tally

The bill passed, by a 219-206 margin. That averts a government shutdown, assuming it passes in the Senate – not a certain thing, though President Obama has said he would sign it. (Should Harry Reid kill it in the Senate, you can proceed to a full-blown discussion of the bloody civil war extant within the Democrat Party.)

As it turns out, Louisiana’s House delegation was split 3-2 on the Republican side in favor of the bill. Reps. John Fleming, who had called Cromnibus a “disgrace,” and Vance McAllister voted against it, while Reps. Bill Cassidy, Steve Scalise and Charles Boustany were for it. Rep. Cedric Richmond, the only Democrat in the delegation, crossed the aisle to vote in favor.

There were 67 Republicans voting against the budget bill, and 57 Democrats for it.

After the vote, Boustany put out a release explaining why it’s not a disgrace…

Boustany said: “I’m disappointed the House was not provided the opportunity for an up-or-down vote on defunding the President’s executive action on immigration. But ceding the high ground while we have the reinforcements of a Republican Senate just over the hill is bad strategy that gives President Obama the upper hand in this fight. If those on the left or right think this means Republicans are not prepared to fight the President’s unconstitutional action, they are wrong. This vote gives Senate Republicans sufficient time to take the majority while ensuring that Congress will reconsider this issue early next year with strong Republican majorities in both Chambers. Now Congressional Republicans are in a stronger position than ever to prevail in this battle and protect the rule of law.”

Last week, Boustany took a strong stand against amnesty by supporting passage of H.R. 5759, the Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act, introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL). The legislation passed by the House expressly prohibits executive orders, new regulations, or any other means by which the Executive Branch may attempt to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants residing in the United States. The bill also prohibits the Executive Branch from treating such individuals as if they are lawfully present in the country and makes clear any executive action seeking to exempt these persons will have no legal effect.

Boustany said: “Congress needs to take a strong stand to protect the current legal structure of our immigration system while we look for ways to make it better. The President’s executive action on immigration sends the wrong message to those who have broken the law to come to this country while punishing those who have waited in line. The Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act makes clear Congress won’t go along with the President’s Executive Order while setting the stage for the Republican Congress to make conservative reforms to our broken immigration system.”

There are several provisions in the year-end funding bill that are good news for Louisiana, including providing $2.5 billion for processing VA disability claims, preventing new fees on onshore oil and gas producers, funding the Army Corps of Engineers at $5.5 billion, an increase of $15 million over last year, and restricting the EPA’s attempt to regulate farm ponds and irrigation ditches known as the “Waters of the US” rule. A full list of legislative highlights included in the bill can be found attached.

Earlier Thursday, in a dramatic 214-212 vote that happened only after outgoing Michigan Republican Kerry Bentivolio switched his vote from nay to yea, the House passed a closed rule that prevented amendments – which killed an amendment by Rep. Mick Mulvaney that would have defunded executive amnesty immediately rather than waiting until February.

There is no joy on the Right over the passage of Cromnibus, and the calls for House Speaker John Boehner’s head are mounting. Sean Hannity called for Boehner’s ouster on his Fox News TV show tonight, and the Republican caucus is not happy.

We’ve opined on the pros and cons of Cromnibus earlier, and outlined that the goal of the bill is to bring “regular order” back to the budget process – which is the Holy Grail for conservative budgeteers. In “regular order,” rather than passing emergency budget bills the House instead would send a dozen separate appropriations bills to the Senate funding the component parts of the government, and those bills would then arrive at the president’s desk separately. A complete government shutdown in regular order is thus impossible, unless the president were to veto all of the appropriations bills – and should he do so there is no chance the shutdown could be blamed on Congress.

If Boehner had trust and credibility with the Republican base, he could sell Cromnibus as a vehicle to get to regular order and thus frame a shutdown fight next summer in the best possible posture for Republican victory. The problem is, Boehner doesn’t have that trust, and there is a vast deficit of confidence among Republicans that he will actually deliver that fight even next year.

Is that fair? Yes, actually. Boehner has spent the bulk of his time as Speaker explaining how the current fight isn’t the right one and the next one will be the real showdown – he promises. You simply can’t do that forever before at some point your support drains away.

Boehner has already been re-elected as Speaker for the next Congress, and replacing him would require someone to actually oppose him. The House GOP Caucus isn’t exactly loaded with members who have a will to power; it seems that ambition among House Republicans usually manifests itself in runs for the Senate or Governor rather than taking a stab at the Speaker’s chair.

So at this point we’ll limp along with Boehner and hope for the best. But he has a long, hard slog ahead of him if he expects to regain the trust of his party’s activists and voters. Cromnibus didn’t help him much, defensible as a matter of strategy or not.

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