House Action: Week of February 23

/ Tuesday, 10 March 2015 / Published in 2015, Blog

I’ve been hoping that the new Republican majority would act out most of its right-wing partisan fire over the first month or two, get it out of its system, and then get to work with the important business of this country. This past week’s actions do not bode well for that hope.

The House had two major items on its agenda. First was H.R. 5, the “Student Success Act”. This legislation would effectively take money away from the poorer school districts and redistribute it to the more affluent districts. Yes, that’s right, take away from the poor and give it to the wealthy. Fortunately, the majority party had to withdraw this from final passage because it didn’t have the votes to pass. Unfortunately, the reason it didn’t have the votes is because the right-wing of the party thought it didn’t go far enough, especially after the Heritage Foundation came out against it, implying that it would be counted against them if they voted for it in the next primary election.

The other item of business was funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Funding for the Department was going to run out on Friday, February 27. The Senate passed an appropriations bill that would fund the DHS through the remainder of the fiscal year without any provisions to stop the President’s moral and rational immigration policy that would change the focus on which undocumented residents would be deported, allowing DREAMers to remain in the country. This was unacceptable to the House Republicans, who are determined to prevent the President’s new policy from being implemented. However, the House Republicans realize they don’t have the votes in the Senate to have their way, so they proposed a bill to fund the Department for 3 weeks. But before allowing a vote on their 3-week extension, they passed a bill on Friday afternoon that killed the Senate version. Well, it turns out that they did not have the votes to pass the 3-week extension because, again, 50 of the more right-wing Republicans could not stomach voting for a clean 3-week extension. This put the House Republican leadership in a bind. Funding for the DHS was going to run out in a matter of hours and they had no plan B. Then Nancy Pelosi agreed to encourage Democrats to vote for a bill to fund the DHS for 1-week as long as Mr. Boehner agreed to allow a vote on the original Senate version for full funding in the coming week. The agreement was reached. The Senate passed a 1-week funding plan, the House passed the 1-week extension, and the President signed it just before midnight. Now let’s hope Mr. Boehner is good for his word.

This is no way to run the greatest country on earth. I urge my Republican colleagues to start working with Democrats on reasonable legislation that will educate our youth, improve infrastructure, and address other pressing needs that will keep our nation strong, competitive and safe instead of trying to satisfy the right-wing of your party and keep your big donors happy.

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