BUDGET PASSES WITH NO GOP VOTES…. When it comes to partisan breakdowns on the Hill, the 100th day of the Obama administration looks an awful lot like the first 99.
President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies in the House have passed a $3.4 trillion budget outline that will help him pass health care reform later in the year.
Not a single Republican backed the plan, which passed by a 233-193 vote.
Here’s the final roll call on the House vote; it passed by an identical margin when it first cleared the chamber earlier this month. The Senate is expected to follow suit later today, and it will likely generate just as much Republican support in the upper chamber — which is to say, none.
Now, unanimous Republican opposition is hardly outrageous. They are, after all, the opposition party. They want to take the nation in a very different direction, and have no use for the popular, progressive agenda endorsed by the Obama administration. There’s some risk in unanimous opposition — some of these GOP lawmakers represent districts where Obama enjoys considerable support — but it’s hardly shocking.
What matters, though, is the larger context and what it tells us about the prospects of “bipartisan” policy making.
After Republican lawmakers largely balked at confirming Kathleen Sebelius yesterday, Matt Yglesias noted this morning:
It seems to me that if you can only get 65 votes for what should be an uncontroversial HHS appointment, then the odds of a broad bipartisan coalition for big picture health care reform are not so good. […]
[T]he prevailing spirit within the GOP is clearly that Obama is a very bad president and so they should vote “no” on his initiatives. Which is fine. But it means that if Obama wants to deliver on his campaign pledges, he needs to use every legal means at his disposal to just pass things over the objections of the minority that opposes him.
Right. Republicans don’t really want to cooperate with the majority party. They don’t want to negotiate; they don’t want to find bipartisan solutions; they don’t want to form a credible governing partnership. Rather, the GOP sees Democrats as an enemy to be defeated, and the Democratic agenda as manifestly misguided. It’s why we hear Republican lawmakers argue they should emulate the insurgency tactics of the Taliban. They see themselves as “freedom fighters” taking on the “slide toward socialism.”
These same officials then denounce reconciliation because it means Democrats might be less inclined to work with Republicans on bipartisan solutions. Imagine that.
What matters is that Democrats appreciate this, and stop pretending the GOP minority is serious about working on policy solutions. It’s just not going to happen anytime soon.