On November 5, 2014, GOP leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner promised that now that their party controlled both Houses of Congress significant legislation would be addressed. Only one of them was being truthful. With a full two months in power, little has been accomplished. To be fair, the Senate Majority Leader does not appear to be the problem; Speaker of the House John Boehner and his cronies are once again the major obstacles. It appears that the next two years will become a battle between the grown-ups and juveniles.
It’s not that the Senate doesn’t have its own children to deal with; we all know that Ted Cruz is so far right that he is wrong all of the time. It appears that McConnell has control of his party and is serious about accomplishing something positive during his tenure as the Senate’s leader.
Sunday McConnell promised the American people that there would be no government shutdown on March 15th. The so-called ‘debt ceiling’ comes in just one week. Although the Senator is likely serious, I wonder if he’s talked to Boehner concerning the matter. Funding for the Department of Homeland Security had to be extended a week before it was passed thanks to TEA Party rebels in the House. Will Boehner have the courage to take control of his children on this issue?
Sunday McConnell was on the CBS news show ‘Face the Nation.’ His remarks were far more encouraging than those of his colleague. He insisted that he would keep his promise and work with the President and not to defeat him. He believes that issues already exist which can be deliberated and agreed upon including trade and cybersecurity legislation. Although Republicans wanted to immediately pass legislation giving the Senate the right of approval over any and all agreements with Iran, McConnell backed down under Democratic pressure. There was concern that on-going negotiations might be damaged if any legislative action was taken before their completion. However, McConnell did express the fact that the President would need Republican cooperation if an agreement is to be signed.
McConnell said that this week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will address the issues of Ukraine and the President’s request for use of force against ISIS.
It appears that McConnell is serious about his November 5th speech, and will attempt to find common ground between the parties. As for Boehner; not so much.
After the 114th Congress was sworn in, the House renewed its old ways. It continued its attempts to find fault in the Benghazi tragedy; a measure was introduced to deny rape victims access to emergency contraception; for the 56th time it voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act; and it was nearly responsible for shutting down the Department of Homeland Security.
For six years the House has been the problem; it appears that the situation will continue for two more. Boehner must assert his authority and make his children play nice for the good of the nation. They can no longer take their ball and go home. Our government is designed to compromise and pass not the Democratic or the Republican version, but legislation which contains the best of both side’s ideas. This is what grown-ups do.
Commentary by James Turnage