The bad boys of the Republican Party are back, and it’s causing big problems for Speaker John Boehner.
Not since the days of the Jack Abramoff scandal a decade ago have so many House GOP lawmakers garnered this many scandalous headlines in such a short a period of time. And while it hasn’t altered the overall political landscape for House Republicans — they are still expected to pick up seats in November — it is causing some nervous moments inside GOP leadership.
On Monday, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) will be hit with more than a dozen federal criminal charges related to his ownership of a health food restaurant in Manhattan, according to two sources close to the case. Grimm, a former undercover FBI agent, owned the restaurant after he left the bureau in 2006 until he was elected to the House in 2010. The indictment will cover criminal actions allegedly taken by Grimm during that period, the sources said.
The charges against Grimm will include mail and wire fraud, filing false tax returns and health care payments, hiring undocumented workers, obstruction of justice and a slew of other criminal allegations, the sources added.
Grimm’s troubles are just the latest high-profile bad behavior in the House. Just before Congress left town for a two-week Easter recess, a video surfaced showing recently elected Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) in a romantic embrace with a now-former aide — prompting calls by top Republicans in the state for the married lawmaker to resign. Earlier this year, Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor cocaine possession charge. He ultimately relinquished his seat.
The upshot is that when the government shutdown deadline approaches in September, everyone in government except for House Republicans (and a few irrelevant Senate conservatives) will be lined up behind a blueprint to stave off another crisis, and they’ll be confronted with an unwelcome choice. How they address that choice will be their call — they could cave or punt or shutdown the government. But it will clarify for them how illusory their leverage is — both in the government shutdown fight and the subsequent fight over increasing the debt limit.
Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio suffered a stunning defeat on the farm bill last month, after 62 Republicans voted against the bill and all but 24 Democrats, opposed to some $20.5 billion in cuts to food aid over 10 years, also defected. The bill failed, 195 to 234, on June 20.
By splitting off the food stamp title of the legislation, which accounts for 80 percent of the nearly $1 trillion bill, GOP leaders hope to attract back enough conservative Republican votes to pass the measure. That would allow the House to negotiate with the Senate over a comprehensive Senate measure that drew the support of roughly two-thirds of that chamber’s members.
In some ways, the strategy appears sensible. Conservative groups and lawmakers, including Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, have long wanted to divorce the two programs, arguing that putting them together helps shield social welfare spending from appropriate fiscal scrutiny. Given that Republicans hold the majority in the House, doing things conservatives want should bring more GOP votes.
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But in today’s madcap Republican conference, rifts over farm policy run deep. Even without the food aid, getting enough Republican votes to pass the bill still requires striking a detente between hardline free marketeers and members from agricultural districts that benefit from subsidy policies detested by the party’s fiscal right wing.
And this time, there won’t likely be a single Democrat to help fill in the gaps.
“My guess is in a few days they’ll figure out they don’t have the votes and then we’ll get back to reality - hopefully,” says Rep. Colin Peterson (D) of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, who opposes splitting the bill and believes all of his colleagues in the minority will oppose it, as well. “Either that or they will march off and kill the farm bill.”
The difficulty with the path House Republican leaders are feeling out is best explained through several conservative groups influential in the House GOP.
If the GOP splits the Bill into Farm Subsidies and Food Stamps and then fail to pass either it shows that they cannot govern even within thier own caucus.
In a statement rich with feigned sympathy, Reid said he recognized Speaker John Boehner’s dilemma and suggested Boehner take up the Senate farm bill since he was unable to pass his own.
“I have often said that Speaker Boehner has one of the toughest jobs in Washington,” Reid said. “Even though the Speaker took the unusual step of announcing his support for the measure ahead of the vote, the bill still went down in flames.”
WASHINGTON — The House voted 224-201 on Thursday to end Department of Homeland Security discretion policies that allow it to delay deportations for young, undocumented immigrants and other people deemed low-priority, effectively demanding the government force out Dreamers who came to the United States as children.
“Does Speaker [John] Boehner want to follow Rep. Steve King’s lead and seal his party’s fate as an out-of-touch, extremist party that has forever marginalized the immigrant and Latino community?” the group continued. “Or will the House take a new direction and pass immigration reform that not only stops the deportations of DREAMers and our families but also creates a clear path to citizenship? It’s up to them. DREAMers will not let politicians get away with this.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) voted for the amendment even though he has said Dreamers should be allowed to eventually become citizens. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) also voted for the amendment despite telling constituents in February that undocumented young people should be given a path to citizenship.
Gawd, you just can’t make this stuff up. This is really a Bozo Show.
The U.S. government was spared from going over the fiscal cliff earlier this year because God spoke to a group of Republicans and told them not to turn against House Speaker John Boehner — at least, that’s what they’ve told the Washington Post.
In a detailed piece about in-fighting among House Republicans, this gem stood out:
Barely 36 hours after the caustic New Year’s Day vote, Boehner faced a coup attempt from a clutch of renegade conservatives. The cabal quickly fell apart when several Republicans, after a night of prayer, said God told them to spare the speaker. Still, Boehner came within a few votes of failing to secure his speakership on the initial vote, an outcome that would have forced a second ballot for the first time in nearly a century.
The speaker apparently knew at the time that he would need divine intervention. Shortly after House Republicans rejected his “Plan B” fiscal cliff bill in December, Boehner expressed his dismay about ever reaching a deal with Obama that would satisfy his party’s demands for spending cuts.
“How we get there, God only knows,” he said.
I’ve been keeping a close eye on “Hastert Rule” developments in the House. As it turns out, plenty of Republicans have been doing the same thing.
To briefly recap for those just joining us, the “Hastert Rule” tells Republican Speakers to only bring bills to the floor that most of their own caucus supports (measures that enjoy a “majority of the majority”). The idea is, Republicans shouldn’t even consider bills if they’re dependent on Democratic votes to pass; the real power belongs in the hands of the House GOP’s far-right rank and file.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stuck to the non-binding, informal “rule” in the last Congress, but over the last two months, he’s ignored it three times. Far-right GOP lawmakers have noticed and have begun demanding the leadership honor the “Hastert Rule” — or else.
The United States faces a crisis in our political system because the Republican Party, particularly in the House of Representatives, is no longer a normal, governing party.
The only way we will avoid a constitutional crackup is for a new, bipartisan majority to take effective control of the House and isolate those who would rather see the country fall into chaos than vote for anything that might offend their ideological sensibilities.
In a democratic system with separated powers, two houses of Congress, split between the parties, a normal party accepts that compromise is the only way to legislate. A normal party takes into account election results. A normal party recognizes when the other side has made real concessions. A normal party takes responsibility.
By all of these measures, the Republican majority that Speaker John Boehner purports to lead is abnormal. That is the meaning of his catastrophic failure to gather the votes for his “Plan B” proposal on the “fiscal cliff.” Many of his most radical members believe they have a right to use any means at their disposal to impose their views on the country, even if they are only a minority in Congress.
Though House Speaker John Boehner has demanded more substantial cuts from the White House, President Barack Obama has a long list of programs he wishes to eliminate or shrink in his fiscal year 2013 budget.
A look through the White House’s budget cuts suggests that every department is due for some slashes if the president gets his way. Though this budget proposal is unlikely to be what Congress passes into law, here’s a peek at some of the more surprising cuts Obama has proposed.
The United States Congress could reprise its role as the Grinch who stole Christmas, as lawmakers continue to bicker toward an end-of-year fiscal cliff deadline that threatens to drag legislative drama through the holidays.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told fellow Republicans on Wednesday to not make any serious plans around or after Christmas, implying that work on resolving the fiscal cliff would extend well through the holiday.
“We can do things very quickly, but this is not something we can do very easily, at least as far as bill-drafting goes,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters on Tuesday. “I think it’s going to be extremely difficult to get it done before Christmas, but it could be done.”
Yet these politicians are engaging in just the latest version of a yuletide game of beat-the-clock in Washington.
Christmas trees, menorahs and other festive adornments have been placed at the White House and Capitol, but a glum sentiment has overtaken Washington. And it’s all thanks to the emerging annual tradition of late-December partisan standoffs as the president and Congress race to complete unfinished business.