On Thursday afternoon, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) appeared on MSNBC’s NOW with Alex Wagner to discuss the recent decision by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to pull the Republicans’ own border crisis bill from the floor. Boehner had to pull the bill during the vote on Thursday as it was clear that it was not going to reach 218 votes and pass. The night before, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had held a meeting with the most right-wing members of the House Republican Caucus and convinced them to go against the bill as, in his opinion, it wasn’t conservative enough.
Cruz, by doing this, made Boehner look like a complete idiot on Thursday. Currently, Boehner is trying to appease Tea Party Republicans in the House by pushing a bogus lawsuit against President Obama. With the lawsuit getting approval from the House on Wednesday, Boehner publicly chastised the President Thursday morning before voting took place on the House floor. The Speaker told reporters that since POTUS wasn’t going to do anything, it was up to Congress to act. Of course, due to Cruz’s interference, Boehner wasn’t even able to get a totally watered-down spending bill that would have barely addressed any real needs at the border. Even with some moderate Democrats expressing support for the bill, Boehner was forced to tuck tail and run.
All of this was not lost on Democrats. Van Hollen told Wagner that “we’ve seen this movie before.” He pointed to last October and the federal government shutdown. Van Hollen stated that at that time, Boehner said he did not want to shut down the government, but Cruz stepped in and “essentially became Speaker of the House” and took over leadership of the House GOP. We are now seeing a repeat of that moment, where Boehner has been rendered impotent by Cruz’s sway with the extreme wing of the House Republican Caucus. Due to Cruz’s interference, and just hours after Boehner insulted President Obama and said Congress would take care of the border crisis, the Speaker had to call on the President to act alone and solve the crisis with whatever executive orders he can pass.
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of MSNBC:
You almost, ALMOST, have to feel sorry for Boehner. He is at the mercy of a relatively small group of whack-jobs who are led by a demagogue who has his eyes on the White House. The Washington Post’s Chris Cilliza wrote on Thursday that Cruz actually wants Boehner and other non-extreme members of the GOP to hate him as he thinks it will increase his chances come 2016.
The key point to remember in all of this is that Ted Cruz wants to be hated by congressional Republicans, or, at the very least, he doesn’t mind knowing that they hate him. Cruz has his eye not on climbing the leadership ladder in Congress but on running for president. (If by some surprise he doesn’t run for president in 2016, it’s hard to imagine him sticking around the world’s greatest deliberative body much longer than when his term ends in 2018.)
As Jason Easley pointed out after Boehner announced that the border crisis bill had been pulled, it isn’t Washington that is broke — it is the Republican Party that is broken. Their constant infighting and pathological hatred of the President has caused everything to grind to a halt on Capitol Hill. This latest embarrassment for Boehner and Congress should be the wake up call for the American public that Democrats need to regain the majority in the House and retain their hold of the Senate if anything substantial is going to be done. Otherwise, expect more of the same over the next two years.