Amid what has become a thorough disaster of failed leverage and tactical incompetence, it might just be that Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats have provided the GOP with a final opportunity to salvage a bit of face in the executive amnesty/DHS funding saga.
Senate Democrats on Monday blocked the formation of a conference committee with the House to agree to funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
If the 47-43 procedural vote had been successful, senators would have moved immediately to a final vote on the motion to go to conference with the House.
Lawmakers on Friday passed a one-week spending bill to avoid a DHS shutdown. Republicans hoped to use the extra time to reach a deal with senators on longer-term department funding and legislation to roll back President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
But Democrats vowed repeatedly to block any attempt to go to conference, arguing the Congress should approve a clean bill funding the agency — without immigration measures attached.
Senate Republicans don’t have the 60 votes necessary to overcome the filibuster.
“This push by House Republicans to go to conference is the very definition of an exercise in futility,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said from the Senate floor. “They want to turn it into something that cannot pass. … We will not be a party to yet another charade by House Republicans.”
There are two possibilities here, because a DHS shutdown is simply not going to happen. The Republicans don’t have the stomach for it, and if a bill ever did make it to President Obama’s desk, forcing him to accept the blame for a DHS shutdown, you’d see him all of a sudden become as realistic as he was when the sequester was negotiated.
Therefore, the first possibility is a complete and total capitulation by the House Republicans in which John Boehner has to use Democrat votes to pass a “clean” DHS funding bill for the rest of the fiscal year. That could very well cost Boehner his speakership…
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.”
The second is Mitch McConnell suspending the filibuster and passing the original House bill which defunds executive amnesty.
I opined here at the Hayride last week that McConnell needed to kill the filibuster and move that bill to Obama’s desk. It wasn’t my advice McConnell ignored, but rather Charles Krauthammer’s – Krauthammer was the first to suggest dumping the filibuster. McConnell’s failure to do that could well end up costing Boehner his job.
To say that the Charlie Brown Republicans who lead us in Congress are a drag on the party’s appeal would be far too charitable.
Something else Krauthammer has said is hard to ignore at this point – namely, that what cannot continue will not continue. At some point leadership this feckless and flaccid simply will not serve, and at some point one or both of the two GOP leaders are going to be bounced out of a job.
That’s bad for Steve Scalise, of course, whose high position as House Majority Whip may or may not depend on Boehner holding on to his speakership. But if Boehner carries through with a full capitulation, it’s merely a matter of time before he’s gone.