Who needs Democrats when so many Republicans are willing to orchestrate their agenda for them?
The Senate is on the precipice of passing Barbara Boxer’s highway bill with overwhelming support. Mitch McConnell is negotiating a deal with Harry Reid in which Republicans would be granted a vote on some of their choice non-germane amendments. After Democrats summarily defeat those amendments, Republicans will return the favor by voting for the underlying bill, which overspends its revenue source by 43% and raises taxes to bridge the gap.
The sad thing is that S. 1813 is not just Boxer’s highway bill. It was supported by every Republican on the committee level, and only 9 Republicans voted against cloture to proceed with the bill on the floor. In a sane world, McConnell would be negotiating proposals to cut mass transit and eliminate the 10% beautification mandates on the states instead of securing failed votes on non-germane amendments. Then again, most Republicans in the Senate actually support the idea of federally funded transportation. They also buy into Obama’s puerile logic that it will create new jobs, instead of spreading around existing ones.
Consequently, not only will Senate Republicans decline to block the Obama/Boxer stimulus, they will lock hands with Democrats, pass the Senate bill, and jam House conservatives. For his part, John Boehner is using the Senate bill against conservatives, instead of joining with conservatives, to fight this terrible bill. He will lock arms with Mitch McConnell instead of coalescing behind a devolution bill or the original House bill, which pegged spending to revenues. Later today, he will issue a pungent threat to bring the Senate bill to the House floor if conservatives fail to cooperate with his bill. This, from Politico:
In a closed-door meeting planned for Wednesday, top Republicans are going to deliver a tough but simple message: Continue to stand against the bill and you’re opposing conservative policy that will fix the flawed way Congress funds road-building and energy production. Join the team — support leadership’s plan to pass a House bill — and you can be part of the solution.
“The Senate will pass a bill,” a House leadership aide said. “House members will have to decide whether they want to pass a better bill.” […]
The strategy was developed late Tuesday and it’s yet to be seen if conservatives will buy the ploy. Moving transit money back into the general fund could gin up opposition. So could a short-term bill. As could the harsh language by leadership.
Go ahead, Mr. Speaker, make our day. Let’s bring the Senate bill with its tax hikes to the House floor, and we’ll see who votes for it.
If we’ve learned anything from last night’s elections, it’s that incumbent congressmen can be unseated with relatively scarce resources in low-turnout primaries.