For now, Democratic leadership aides signal, they are content to let Speaker John Boehner twist in the wind. In other words: This is your problem; you deal with it.
The emerging House GOP plan is to hold a vote to condemn President Obama’s executive action, to allow conservatives to vent. Then Republicans will try to pass year-long funding for most of the government, except the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration enforcement. The DHS would be funded through only February, at which point Republicans could try to defund Obama’s action.
Conservatives — egged on by the Three Amigos, Ted Cruz, Steve King, and Michele Bachmann — say this isn’t good enough, so passage of the bill funding the government remains in doubt. Indeed, GOP leaders have reportedly reached out to Democratic leaders to see if Dems would help pass it. Nancy Pelosi responded by declining to answer, saying only: “It’s immature. They should make a decision that this is what we need to do to keep the government open.“
If that sounds cryptic, it’s because it’s supposed to be. There’s no reason why Democrats would signal their intentions now, since Boehner’s apparent need for Democratic support to avoid disaster theoretically increases their leverage.
A senior House Democratic aide tells me there are several unknowns that will determine whether Democrats ultimately support the GOP scheme. One is whether GOP leaders acquiesce to conservative demands for “riders” defunding Obama’s action to be attached to government funding. Anything that actually undermines that action will be a non-starter, so Dems will insist any such tactic be scrapped.
It’s likely that a number of Democrats will end up supporting the GOP scheme. The fact that Republicans appear set to hold two separate votes — one directly targeting the executive action; the other funding the government — suggests they know they need to decouple the two in order to avoid a shutdown. If they do that, Dems might support the government funding bill.
After all, this would push the confrontation over the executive action into February. Are Republicans really going to risk shutting down the Department of Homeland Security two months from now, in response to an announcement that at that point will have happened in the (politically) distant past? Republicans such as Senator Lindsey Graham are already condemning this idea: “It’d be shortsighted to deny funding to an agency that’s become one of the frontline defenders of the homeland.”
It would be shortsighted — and politically perilous. In the end, Republican leaders are probably betting that if they stretch this out long enough, conservative rage will ultimately sputter out, at least to the point where it can more easily be marginalized. Democrats might quietly assist in that process.
Look for a lot of local officials to grandstand and vie for attention from the Conservative Entertainment Complex on this.
The imbalance between Mr. Garner’s fate, on a Staten Island sidewalk in July, and his supposed infraction, selling loose cigarettes, is grotesque and outrageous. Officer Pantaleo…used forbidden tactics to brutalize a citizen who was not acting belligerently, posed no risk of flight, brandished no weapon and was heavily outnumbered. Any police department that tolerates such conduct, and whose officers are unable or unwilling to defuse such confrontations without killing people, needs to be reformed. And though the chance of a local criminal case is now foreclosed, the Justice Department is right to swiftly investigate what certainly seem like violations of Mr. Garner’s civil rights.
The larger context here is daunting: As the Post notes, the Justice Department currently has open civil rights probes underway into the killings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, but sources say there isn’t enough evidence to bring charges in either.
* POLLING FACTOID OF THE DAY: We already knew the American public was polarized along racial lines over the failure to indict Officer Darren Wilson. E.J. Dionne breaks down the numbers further:
Among white Democrats, only 37 percent approved of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson, but 80 percent of white Republicans did. When it came to bringing federal civil rights charges, 60 percent of white Democrats approved of the move, compared with just 19 percent of white Republicans.
Yep: Polarization on this is partisan, too.
* BOTH SIDES CONDEMN GARNER KILLING: In contrast to polarization on the Michael Brown killing, MSNBC’s First Read crew makes this interesting observation about the reaction to the killing of Eric Garner:
Politically, there’s been one key difference between the reactions to the two recent decisions of grand juries not to indict white police officers for killing an unarmed black man. Unlike in Ferguson, conservatives have united with liberals to criticize the decision out of Staten Island, NY. Maybe the biggest reason for this unity: the videotape that exists of the killing…Does this create a political consensus to reform law enforcement’s treatment of African Americans?
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But, naturally, the Supreme Court is poised to hear a case that could “snuff out” this key way to “create more-representative and less-polarized representation in our democracy” and “ameliorate the worst effects of our tribalized politics.”