Boehner Casts About For a Lifeline

Now that Senate Republicans (or all but two of them) have paved the way for a vote on a “clean” DHS funding bill, the ball is entirely in John Boehner’s court. If he’s got some way out of the cul-de-sac he’s in that doesn’t involve at least a temporary shutdown of DHS or a surrender (probably executed with Democratic votes), the best reportorial minds of America have not been able to divine it.

A Parker/Huetteman piece in the New York Times suggests that among the ideas being kicked around is to make funding of DHS contingent on the outcome of the litigation over Obama’s most recent executive order on immigration. If Judge Andrew Hanen’s order is overturned by the Fifth Circuit, according to this sketchy scheme, DHS gets it in the neck. While that would represent a return to classic hostage-taking behavior by the GOP, I don’t know how they’d draft such language or whether they’re willing to go all 1950s-Alabama by openly trying to intimidate the federal judiciary.

Dave Weigel’s report on the situation suggests that anti-immigration ultras just aren’t up to an apocalyptic fight; he quotes Tom Tancredo as deploring the lack of any real strategy among his nativist heirs. And surrounding the whole brouhaha, of course, is the knowledge that the president will veto any appropriations bill or legislation that seeks to unravel his executive orders. So this whole thing is about posturing, and many of the would-be posturers, including those on the presidential campaign trail, would just as soon have an Establishment boogeyman to attack.

You get the feeling almost everybody in the GOP wishes they could check out and take a quick vacation and come back with this whole mess resolved. In the mean time, though, John Boehner will be in the spotlight, doing what he does best: floundering.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.