Three More Weeks for What?

So it looks like if John Boehner can get a continuing resolution through the House providing “clean” funding for the Department of Homeland Security for three more weeks, the immediate crisis in Congress will abate. But you have to wonder what he thinks that will accomplish other than kicking a flaming ball of dung down a dirty trail full of tinder.

For one thing, both the rule and the CR itself are highly vulnerable to a left-right pincers attack, with virtually all Democrats joining Republican bitter-enders in voting “nay.” If Boehner went ahead and pushed a full til-September bill, as most observers think he will ultimately have to do anyway, he’d have the entire Democratic caucus in his corner.

And for another, all the vague talk we’re hearing this morning about the three-week reprieve giving Republicans more time to get their act together makes no particular sense. There’s nothing that complicated about the united front congressional Democrats and the White House have prevented against any conditions on DHS funding. Yes, maybe Republicans can contrive some meaningless vote in the Senate to condemn the latest presidential executive action on immigration that a few Democrats might be convinced to vote for or at least not filibuster. But so what if it passes? Obama will veto it.

The only thing that strikes me as an adequate rationale for this delaying game would be the belief that the Fifth Circuit will refuse to overturn Judge Andrew Hanen’s preliminary injunction against enforcement of the president’s executive actions. This could be hailed as a temporary victory for The Cause and grounds for letting the DHS hostage go as substantive appeals went forward, taking months. If that’s what is going on, Boehner might as well just say so.

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.