This week was put up or shut up time for Republicans. After decades demanding unspecified budget cuts they finally had to put their vote where their budget outline was. So what did they do? They are taking a 40th vote on repealing Obamacare and then heading home for five weeks vacation. This is who they are.
This week the House Republican leadership withdrew its own transportation and housing appropriations bill. (Transportation, Housing and Urban Development is also known in DC as “THUD.”) The bill lined up with the Republican “Paul Ryan” budget outline Republicans have already passed. But even though Republicans completely control the House, they couldn’t pass THUD because the cuts in the bill were just too much for members to stomache. They understand that the public, having been promised for decades that cuts in “waste” will be painless, will not like it when the things that make their lives better are what gets cut, and will likely vote accordingly.
For decades Republicans have talked of the need to cut government, without ever specifying specifically what, specifically, they would cut. So here they are, having to put actual numbers on their eternal promises to cut cut cut, and they can’t even stomache it themselves. This bill was 9% below even sequester-level cuts. The worst cuts were to public works projects (construction jobs), Amtrak and community planning and development block grants. Note that while some Republicans couldn’t vote for it because it cut too much, others objected because they wanted even more cuts! (Note that they did pass large increases in military spending in exchange for large contributions from military contracting corporations.)
When they return in the fall it looks like they will try to divert attention from their failure to come up with specific cuts by passing something that Democrats cannot accept and the President will veto, then shut the government down and try to blame Democrats. Senate Republicans moved that ball down the road by filibustering the Senate version of the THUD bill. The country is left without a budget and the Congress goes home
The rubber has hit the road, the Republicans have been fighting for power, they have it, and this is what they are doing with it. They are obstructing and deflecting, not governing. This is who they are.
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