Brit Hume’s right questions, wrong answers

We’re about five days away from yet another government-shutdown deadline, and funding for FEMA is set to run out even sooner. There were some hopes late last week that congressional leaders would connect over the weekend and make progress towards some resolution, but by all accounts, “there was no progress toward a compromise.”

While lawmakers were supposed to be out this week, the Senate will return to work today, and will likely vote this afternoon on a cleaned-up version of the House bill (emergency disaster funding without offsets). Whether Senate Republicans will use a filibuster to kill the bill, and whether the House GOP will pass the measure if it’s approved in the Senate, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, some media coverage of the standoff continues to be deeply misleading. Here’s what Fox News’ Brit Hume told viewers yesterday.

“Let’s just take look at this latest skirmish. You need a continuing resolution to keep the government open and there’s a need for some relief funding because it’s almost been exhausted. So the Republicans pass a bill that has the disaster relief funding in it, to the tune of several billion dollars and they pay for it with cuts in green jobs funding. […]

“They sent it to the Senate. What does the Senate do? The Senate blocks it and then does, so far, nothing. Now, it may be that with the media coverage and the political statements that will be made about this, that if the government shuts down the Republicans will get the blame. But I ask you in this: who’s being responsible? And who’s playing politics?”

It’s entirely reasonable to ask who’s “being responsible.” Unfortunately, Hume doesn’t seem to understand the developments well enough to answer the question effectively.

Let’s quickly go over this again. Hume believes the Senate has, “so far,” done “nothing” to advance “disaster relief funding.” That’s plainly false. With bipartisan support, the Senate approved FEMA funding 11 days ago. It was a pretty important step; even Fox News reported on it.

Hume also suggests that it’s House Republicans who’ve been “responsible.” That, too, is demonstrably wrong. GOP leaders first decided to change the rules when it came to emergency disaster relief — Republicans said they wouldn’t approve the aid unless Democrats accepted cuts to a successful clean-energy program. The Senate and the White House said this wouldn’t do, but the House GOP went ahead anyway.

House Republicans then decided to make the spending bill a little more attractive to far-right members, with the leadership buying some GOP votes by cutting $100 million from a Department of Energy loan program the GOP loved until a few weeks ago. The Senate and the White House again urged Republicans to be more sensible, but the House GOP again proceeded anyway, rejecting talk of compromise, and using this little stunt to make right-wing ideologues happy.

Hume really wants to know who’s “playing politics”? Please.

I know it’s Fox, but it’d be awfully nice if these guys paid a little closer attention to current events.