Since January 5, 2011, for John Boehner (R-OH), his position as Speaker of the House has been just a title in words not in deed. The words are those of the 1789 US Constitution. The Speaker presides over the proceedings of the House and is the highest position in the House leadership. However, the deed is that Boehner does not demonstrate leadership of the majority party. The Tea Party wing that enabled the GOP to achieve its majority status has also rendered it factious. Once again it has compromised Boehner’s speakership by its handling of a Continuing Resolution to fund the government. Once again, oblivious to public opinion, House action threatens us with a government shutdown.
Tea Party Republicans defied their leaders and brought down a bill to keep the government running after September 30 because it did not meet their demands to make deeper spending cuts. In the past, disaster relief rushed out of Congress with strong backing from both parties. Not this time. Instead, the House Republicans made it the focus of a political issue: offsetting the cost of funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with cuts elsewhere.
The bill failed. Boehner and his operatives cobbled together support for a slightly different but essentially similar bill. They brought some recalcitrant freshmen on board in video and photo opportunities with the old pros to recite sound bites, and then narrowly passed a stopgap bill two days later.
“We are now watching the Tea Party shutdown movie for the third time this year,” said Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) of the House not passing the CR. “The ending isn’t surprising,” Durbin said on MSNBC. “It isn’t even interesting anymore. They can’t get together the basic Republican votes on the House side to even pass the continuing resolution they agreed to just a few weeks ago, let alone some disaster aid for a country that’s been hard-hit by a lot of disasters.”