Republicans, at least since Barack Obama’s presidency when they dragged their feet on raising the debt ceiling and revived government shutdowns as a political extortion, have cared far less about delivering good government (whether big or small) and more about white identity politics, stunts and outright hostility to government. Consider what is going on this week.
President Trump is refusing to do his job. His anger (or is it fear?) over legitimate congressional investigations prompted him to declare he’ll stop work on an infrastructure bill. Finally, Republicans have found a labor strike they support. The notion that Trump would punish Americans unless he was freed from investigation suggests he and we would be better off if he left office and got a pardon.
He’s not the only one avoiding work. The Hill reports:
The lack of floor action has left lawmakers publicly complaining, even though the high-profile feuding between President Trump and congressional Democrats makes it highly unlikely that large-scale bipartisan legislation will succeed heading into the 2020 elections.
Tensions boiled over onto the Senate floor this week when Sen. John [Neely] Kennedy (R-La.) knocked the slow start to the new Congress, characterizing lawmakers as having done “nothing, zilch, zero, nada.”
“I’m not saying we haven’t done anything. We have confirmed some very important nominees to the Trump administration, long overdue,” Kennedy said. “I’m saying we need to do more.”
Asked how he felt about the pace of legislation in the Senate this year, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) shot back: “What legislation?”
“So it’s pretty slow, isn’t it?” he asked
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has the nerve to suggest that if Republicans had the House — as they did for two years — they’d get a whole bunch of things done. Really?
This is preposterous. If Republicans do not like Democratic bills on health care, fighting corruption, prescription drugs, nondiscrimination, guns, the environment and more, they can amend them and send them back. Alternatively, they can start from scratch on their own legislation. Where’s the Senate bill on infrastructure, on prescription drugs or on ethics reform? Remember, they couldn’t even pass their own immigration bill in 2018.
And speaking of House Republicans, on Friday a lone Republican House member, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) (who learned his antics as a staffer for the best obstructionist, Sen. Ted Cruz) blocked a carefully crafted compromise on disaster relief. Disaster relief. The Post reports:
Roy said he was objecting to the bill because it would add to the country’s debt, as well as because it left out $4.4 billion in additional spending for federal operations along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“This is a bill that includes nothing to address the clear national emergency and humanitarian crisis we face at our southern border,” Roy said in a near empty House chamber, adding: “We’ve got emergency requests right now from the administration.”
Let’s put aside the fact that Republicans, in large part due to the tax cuts, have run up the debt. This is a stunt, pure and simple, that punishes victims of natural disasters:
Following Roy’s objection, the House ended its session. The House is set to have another “pro forma” session — one with few lawmakers present — on Tuesday, at which time they plan to again try to pass the legislation by unanimous consent.
“We’ll see,” Roy said when asked whether he would object again. “I have not decided what I’m going to do next week, but I also have a job to do back in Texas.”
That job must be something other than serving his constituents in the House. Regardless, he may need new employment after the next election:
“Texas gets money from this,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) as he made an expression of disbelief. . . . The move puts [Roy] at odds with Trump, who publicly supported the deal Thursday, in a district where the president is popular among Republican primary voters. And Roy barely won his general election, with 50.2 percent of the vote. His district is rapidly becoming more suburban and is in a state that has recently benefited from billions of dollars in federal disaster funds following Hurricane Harvey and other floods.
And you wonder why Republicans are losing the suburbs.
Republicans don’t seems to know what they want to accomplish, and they wouldn’t know how to get it if they did. Republicans send demagogues to the House and Senate; they lack the interest and capacity to pass legislation that voters want (as we saw in the health-care fight). Apparently the fact that the 2018 midterms wiped out dozens of Republican House members, many from districts like Roy’s, made no impression on the survivors, whose arrogance is undiminished.
Republicans in the House and Senate who have become devoted to protecting Trump and gaining fame on Fox News rather than legislating and performing oversight should be fired. Since passing an incredibly unpopular tax bill, they’ve achieved virtually nothing (other than shutting down the government). Trump came to Washington, D.C., to blow things up, but Republicans have blown up the idea of public service and representative democracy. Those who think government should be accomplishing something for voters should drum them all out in 2020. Perhaps if they suffer utter annihilation they will rediscover their purpose, to serve voters and protect the Constitution, not to serve and protect Trump.