Despite last-minute efforts by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass a clean funding bill, it appears the Republican controlled Keystone Congress is poised to shut down the Department of Homeland Security midnight Friday. This news comes on the day that a terror plot was uncovered in New York and would-be terrorists were stopped on the way to Syria to join ISIL.
The inability of Republicans to govern is reminiscent of the famed Keystone Cops. Ironically, the first major piece of legislation passed by the GOP-controlled Congress was a bill to force construction of the Keystone Pipeline. The bill was vetoed by the president, but even though there are not enough votes in either House to override the veto, Republicans have prioritized bringing it up for an override vote. Other business can wait.
Wednesday, the Senate voted 98-2 for cloture on a clean funding bill for DHS. Thursday, they will vote on the actual bill. It is not clear if I will pass, but it is likely to. The bill then would go to the House. Already Republicans have been railing against it saying they cannot fund DHS because that would be letting Barack Obama get away with his “horrendous unconstitutional actions on behalf of illegal immigrants.” Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL) said Wednesday that illegal immigrants are a national security threat, confusing them with ISIL.
When asked Wednesday if he would support the clean funding bill, Speaker Boehner just kept repeating “The Senate needs to act.” He has given no clue what he will do Thursday on the Senate bill. Boehner and McConnell have not even spoken.
The problem is a funding bill needs to start in the House so Boehner needs to pass his own clean funding bill, send it to the Senate which would need all 100 Senators to agree to it, and send to the president by midnight Friday or the DHS will shut down. If all 100 do not agree, then it will take a couple days to clear procedural hurdles. It is highly unlikely that can all get done in time. There is also no reason to believe the House will even pass a clean bill. Boehner said “The House has done its job.”
Perhaps that vacation they took the last two weeks was not the best idea after all.
So, the smart money is on the Department of Homeland Security being shut down at midnight Friday. About 50,000 employees will be sent home without pay. Another 150,000 will be forced to work without pay because their jobs are considered essential. They include border guards, TSA screeners, custom agents and other workers whose job is to keep us safe.
Republicans hoodwinked the voters last November telling them that a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress would break the gridlock. They sold the voters a bill of goods about how there would be no more government shutdowns. This reminds one of that infamous “Read my lips; no new taxes” quote.
We see that they have no interest in governing, and no ability to do so. Republicans are more interested in humiliating President Obama than they are in governing the country. The priority for Republicans is to make political statements by passing legislation that will go nowhere. They refuse, however, to pass the legislation that keeps all departments of the government open. And, they look like the Keystone cops doing so.
That is why this Republican-controlled Congress will go down in history as the Keystone Congress.
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