If you want a demonstration on why it’s so easy for regular folks to despise politicians, look no further than the shenanigans that went on in the U.S. House of Representatives, yesterday. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), who is openly gay, has been attaching a LGBT rights amendment to Republican bills. He’s able to do this because Speaker Ryan has decided to allow for a much more open amendments process than his predecessors, but that comes with a cost. The cost is that the opposition finds it much easier to mess with you by offering amendments that drive wedges into your caucus.
Gay rights is one of those wedge issues. First, Rep. Maloney attached his amendment to a military construction bill. It provided “that nothing in the underlying spending bill can undermine President Obama’s executive order barring discrimination by government contractors based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
When it became clear that the amendment would pass, the House leadership held the vote open until they could whip enough votes to defeat it, 212-213. That was last week.
On Wednesday night, Rep. Maloney attached the amendment to an energy spending bill and it passed 223-195, with 43 Republicans and all the Democrats supporting it.
Isn’t it amazing that the same body of 435 representatives could have such a different opinion of an amendment depending on whether it was attached to a military construction bill or an energy bill?
In truth, those 43 Republicans don’t object to the amendment. They didn’t want to go on the record opposing it the first time.
But, fine, they eventually exercised their independent judgment and passed it, right?
What happened then?
The victory was short-lived, however, as the amendment proved to be a poison pill that led scores of Republicans to oppose the underlying energy bill, which suffered a crushing 112-305 defeat on the floor Thursday. One hundred and thirty Republicans voted against the package, while just six Democrats supported it.
The Republicans voted against gay rights before they voted for them before they voted against them again?
Of course, they blamed the Democrats for not supporting the energy bill, but the energy bill wasn’t crafted to win Democratic support. What actually happened is that gay-hating Republicans who supported the energy appropriations decided to vote against them once the funds became attached to an anti-discrimination provision.
This is, of course, Speaker Ryan’s fault because he decided to let the Democrats offer these types of amendments to bills they have no intention of supporting. And that allows the Democrats to have a good old time exposing the Republicans’ divisions and horrible record on gay rights.
It’s another demonstration that the GOP is not capable of acting as a cohesive governing coalition. They cannot fund the government. And they couldn’t fund it even before they opened the door for the Democrats to shiv them at every opportunity.
The average citizen doesn’t understand all the procedural and strategic maneuvering here. All they see is a bunch of politicians who shift their votes with no regard for principle, who are more interested in embarrassing each other than in getting things done, and who simply cannot preform even the most basic elements of their jobs.
I’m not making a moral equivalency argument here. The Democrats are right on the merits and, given a majority, would have no problems figuring out how to fund the government. But that’s difficult to see. What’s easy to see is why everyone now seems to hate Congress.