House passes one week DHS funding extension
House Republicans, who shockingly voted down a 3 week extension of funding for the Department of Homeland Security earlier in the day, reluctantly passed a 7 day extension to keep the department running.
It's hard to see what's changed by this short term funding gambit. The Senate still won't consider a funding bill that contains language that would defund the president's immigration executive orders. And House conservatives won't vote for a funding bill that doesn't have those riders.
Boehner's failure to deliver his caucus on a 3 week funding bill advanced by the House leadership calls into question his ability to continue as speaker. But every time questions of Boehner's continued leadership arise, the counter question - who will replace him - shuts off debate pretty quickly. But the speaker is no doubt beginning to feel like a punching bag considering that he's getting heat from House conservatives and Senate Republicans.
Two senior House Republican sources tell CNN there was serious concern among those close to the Speaker that if he allowed a vote on a clean DHS funding bill without immigration language, conservatives would make a motion to vacate the chair, which amounts to a direct challenge to his job.
Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Charlie Dent acknowledged to reporters he heard conservatives were using the DHS fight to try to remove Boehner.
"Right now, we have to get serious," he said. "I think a lot of people better get serious about governing and it's time for all of these, you know, DC games to end. I mean all these palace coups or whatever the hell is going on around here has to end, and we have to get down to the business of governing."
The battle over DHS funding comes more than 16 months after political chaos tipped the entire government into a shutdown. Republicans bore the brunt of the public's blame for that episode and polls indicate the party would be blasted again.
A CNN poll last week found 53% of Americans would blame Republicans in Congress if the department shuts down, while 30% would blame Obama. Another 13% said both would deserve the blame.
Boehner has been here before -- wedged between his hard-right flank and the Senate. House conservatives want to continue fighting to block Obama's actions on immigration and want to go to conference with the Senate to work out their differences .
How he handles the showdown could dictate the rest of his speakership, as House conservatives warn compromising now means he's effectively allowing Democrats to block GOP agenda for the next two years.
The Democrats have no pressure on them to act responsibly. When the GOP filibustered the budget and shut down the government, they were blamed. Now Democrats are filibustering the DHS funding bill and the Republicans are still being blamed. It's madness.
The fact that Republicans won an historic victory last November now means nothing. Both the president and Democrats in the Senate have decided that the election was meaningless, and that the majority 's agenda must be blocked.
And GOP leaders in both houses of Congress will soon find themselves siding with Democrats once again in order to prevent a shutdown of an important department and get blamed for something that is essentially not their fault.
In this case, Republicans will bow to the fact that perception trumps reality.