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Tags: border | plan | delayed | boehner | republicans

Latest House Republican Misstep Delays Border Security Plan

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 06:08 AM EST

House Speaker John Boehner concedes the new Republican-led U.S. Congress has had “a couple of stumbles” as opposition within the party forced the indefinite postponement this week of House border-security legislation.

“We want to get off to a fast start this year,” Boehner of Ohio said Tuesday, explaining that Republicans who control the House and Senate are seeking to assure Americans “we’re here to listen to their priorities.”

Instead, dissent within the party has complicated leaders’ plans to pass legislation on the House floor. In addition to the border-security vote, House Republican leaders had to pull an anti-abortion measure amid opposition, while their plan to block President Barack Obama’s immigration actions in a Department of Homeland Security financing bill drew “no” votes from moderates.

“Governing is tough in this business,” said Tom Davis, a former Republican House member from Virginia.

In the session’s opening moments on Jan. 6, Boehner himself was a target of Republican opposition, with 24 of his Republican colleagues voting for someone else to be speaker. He won re- election, though with support from fewer than half of the 434 House members, as some were absent and no Democrats voted for him.

Thomas Mann, a congressional analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said Republican leaders began the new session with mostly symbolic legislation that had no chance of becoming law during Obama’s presidency. Their mistake, he said, has been failing to first secure enough support among party members about what these bills should contain.

Diverse Caucus

“It’s a challenge of having bigger and more diverse caucuses,” added Spencer Abraham, a Republican former U.S. senator from Michigan and former U.S. energy secretary.

Republicans control 246 House seats, their largest majority in 70 years. That includes members from more moderate areas of the country along with hard-line Republicans, representing a broader range of viewpoints for leaders to deal with, Abraham said.

Some of the hard-line members objected to the $10 billion border security bill on grounds it didn’t go far enough. Last week, Republican leaders scrapped a House vote to ban abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy because a group of centrist members, including women lawmakers, said an exception for rape victims was too limited.

Two weeks ago, 26 House Republicans, mostly moderates, almost helped defeat an amendment to their party’s Homeland Security funding bill that would end aid to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. The measure passed and went to the Senate where Democrats, newly in the minority, said they will block it.

Keystone Pipeline

A bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, though passed by the House, is stalled in the Senate amid a dispute with Democrats over amendments. Leaders there say they expect it will pass by this weekend.

“Republicans control both houses of Congress, but Speaker Boehner still doesn’t have the wherewithal to legislate,” jabbed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, after the delay on the border security bill.

The early House action on this year’s bills was, for the most part, scripted even before the bigger House majority and new Republican-controlled Senate took office in January.

That’s not unusual. Majority parties in almost every new Congress are ready for early action on a slate of bills, considered safe bets for passage after limited debate, because they were aired in previous sessions. That’s because it takes time for new proposals to advance through committees.

Five Bills

The House under Boehner this session has already brought five bills to the floor for votes under limited-debate rules. Matters have still gone wrong.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas, sponsor of the $10 billion border security bill, had said that measure was “ready to go.” It was approved by his committee last week just days after it was introduced.

While objections from Democrats to the quick action were expected, Republican leaders also got grief from fellow party members who said the the bill didn’t go far enough.

Representative Steve King of Iowa and others said they agreed with Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions that the bill should include more security improvements inside the U.S., in addition to those at the borders.

“We felt kinda jammed. And we asked, ‘Are we ready to do this?’” said Representative Trent Franks of Arizona.

‘Walk Through’

In talking about the border bill, Boehner said at a news conference Tuesday that leaders will “walk through all of this with our members.”

Abraham said Boehner’s strategy may be to “demonstrate to the more conservative group that he was willing to try their approach.” Then, the former lawmaker said, “He wants to be credible when he says ‘we’re going to go for Plan B.’”

Davis, the former House Republican lawmaker, said members need to realize that their symbolic proposals won’t get through the Senate, where Democrats can block legislation.

“If the Republicans want to, they can form a circular firing squad,” Davis said. “At that point they will quickly become a minority. They need to put a legislative product through the House.”

© Copyright 2022 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

House Speaker John Boehner concedes the new Republican-led U.S. Congress has had "a couple of stumbles" as opposition within the party forced the indefinite postponement this week of House border-security legislation."We want to get off to a fast start this year," Boehner...
border, plan, delayed, boehner, republicans
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 06:08 AM
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