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DHS funding fiasco post-mortem: Who’s to blame?

DHS funding fiasco post-mortem: Who’s to blame?

The final result is merely a symptom of a much larger problem

House Republicans came out swinging, passed a killer DHS appropriations bill — one that hammered much needed immigration enforcement, and acted as though they were ready for an immigration battle royal. For one brief, joyous moment, it seemed as though conservatives finally had the Congress they’d long desired.

Boy was that short-lived.

What began as a bill that held sought to beef up immigration enforcement (an area where this administration has been far too lax), ended as a ‘clean’ funding bill with no strings attached. Despite holding majorities in both houses, Republicans received nothing they wanted.

Friday morning, Boehner said he would, “not be blackmailed by Senate Democrats.” Senate Democrats perpetually filibustered the House bill, disallowing debate. By Friday afternoon, Senate Republicans had split the funding bill in two — one, a ‘clean’ funding bill, and the other, a bill that addressed the president’s executive amnesty and other enforcement related items. The ‘clean’ funding bill passed in the Senate. The House tried again, but Senate Democrats refused to go to conference to discuss differences in the House and Senate bills, and so the House found itself in a nasty predicament.

By passing a ‘clean’ funding bill, Senate Republicans gave the White House and Democrats exactly what they wanted, leaving House Republicans without any leverage, any backup plan, and absolutely no way around a ‘clean’ funding bill.

Yet in spite of the Senate sell out, there appeared to be hope. As late as Monday evening, prior to the House’s passage of Tuesday’s ‘clean’ funding bill, Speaker Boehner and House leadership were promising to hold the line and fight.

What went so horribly wrong?

To begin with, Senate Republicans shoved their House pals up a creek without a paddle. That we ended up with a ‘clean’ funding bill falls squarely on the upper chamber. And Boehner should have avoided making promises he was unable to keep, though to his credit, the House has done everything they said they’d do. But those are the least concerning problems in this equation.

As we’ve discussed, the idea that Congress could somehow stop Obama’s amnesty by holding DHS funding hostage was ill conceived from day one.

Prior to agreeing to a ‘clean’ funding bill, Boehner’s office said, “A DHS shutdown would not stop Obama’s amnesty.” And they’re right. Yet this is the weapon they chose?

Agency shutdowns are one of the ugliest ‘solutions’ to policy differences. With Republicans dangling funding over the cliff, a temporary DHS shutdown would’ve been the eventual conclusion in any scenario. Mix in the Democrat’s collective refusal to bend, the White House’s constant veto threats, and a press pool running interference for anyone bearing a (D), and the situation only worsens.*

Most offensive though is the glaring lack of strategy, plan, and any semblance of unified messaging from Republican Congressional leadership.

Florida based Republican strategist Rick Wilson, also critical of the spectacular DHS funding flop, offered a handful of suggestions. “Establish a goal. Test and refine messages that cause pain and damage to your political enemy. Deploy them. Do it again. Raise the pain,” Wilson wrote, “For the 10000x time: a plan beats no plan, every time. They [Congressional Republican leadership] never have a plan to punch back, to beat down, blackmail, and mess with Democrats.” Wilson is absolutely correct.

What Congressional Republican leadership is doing (see also, flying by the seat of their pants) simply isn’t good enough, not by a long shot. All the good intentions in the world mean nothing if they render no results. The Republican’s perpetual failure to produce results (real world results not ‘D.C. successes’) has the GOP base deathly sick of the same tired excuses.

Considering our Democratic opposition, being continually out-maneuvered by these jokers is nothing short of inexcusable. Republican leadership intentions though well meaning, lack a long-term strategy. And going to war without any plan? That’s just a reckless way to lead. Why leadership is not coordinating between the chambers, messaging the hell out of their proposals, launching counter attacks, and making Democrats squirm, remains a mystery. And why is the zeal for hammering the opposition limited to committee hearings and absent from legislative battles?

None of this would be too consequential if not for the stakes. Republican failure now could be disastrous for 2016 when those that counted on the GOP to lead, remember fiascos like this one. Because without change, there will undoubtedly be a DHS Funding Fiaso 2.0.

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*A brief, but relevant note on the DHS shutdown strategy:

It’s true that approximately 200,000 of DHS’s 231,000+ employees are ‘essential’ and therefore immune to furlough in the event of a shutdown. But what about the other 31,000? Most would be hard pressed to survive indefinitely without receiving a paycheck. “I promise I’ll get paid eventually,” is not something landlords want to hear. In the abstract, agency shutdowns might sound like the best course of action, but individual livelihoods should not be sacrificed at the alter of political grandstanding.

And then there’s the “Defund DHS! We don’t need them anyway!” route. By no means was this a realistic option with the current White House occupant. If the goal is to beef up immigration enforcement, how would defunding the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Patrol, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, essentially every entity in charge of enforcement, bring Republicans any closer to that goal? It wouldn’t.


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legacyrepublican | March 5, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Frankly, the best tactic is to deal with the latest distraction.

Here is what I would have done in Boehner’s place. Vote the bill down.

Then pass a new bill that cleanly funds DHS with no strings, but at the same time declares the Internet not to be a Title II utility and not needing to be regulated by the FCC under Title II.

You won’t often have me say this, Kemberlee, because you seldom serve one up, but…

that was an unmitigated crock.

Who is to blame…???

Start with Ol’ Carlsbad Boehner, the mammoth cave.

Add 75 poltroon Rs…some of them BIG conservatives…on the stump…, and you’ve got your recipe. A couple were from Texas, and BOY are they gonna be primaried.

When they passed the Cromnibus, the handwriting was on the wall.

I’ve been hearing that the Republicans in Congress are well-meaning for the past twenty-five years. I don’t care anymore. I’ve had it. I’m done with supporting Republicans. If they want my support, they can start racking up some victories. Oh wait, they can’t — they not only took impeachment off the table (including impeachment of even minor administration players), they also took the withholding of funding off the table. So they’ve transformed themselves into a rubber stamp for whatever Obama and the Democrats want. This isn’t what I voted for.

Even on things like Fast and Furious and the IRS scandals, we got hearings, but as far as I know, no one’s been punished and nothing has changed. Seriously, the Republicans have given conservatives NO REASON AT ALL to continue supporting them. I’m actually rooting for the GOP to go the way of the Whigs; at least then conservatives have a chance of regaining some form of representation in Washington (assuming it’s not too late for that).

Gremlin1974 | March 5, 2015 at 5:47 pm

The problem was a clear and continuous lack of leadership from “leaders” in both houses. There is also an apparent break down in communication between the the two chambers. Because McConnell should have known this bill was coming and prepared for it.

McConnell was a disappointment as minority leader and is ever worse as majority leader.

The moment that McConnell looked like he was gonna fold he should have gotten a call from Beohner that told him the Senate had the only bill that would be allowed to the floor of the house, period. Or he should have arranged with McConnell a path through the reconciliation process that the Democrats were so fond of using.

Either way, “leadership” in both houses need to be removed. The 165 that voted against Beohner’s clean bill should sign a public letter demanding his resignation from the speakers chair and a duplicate one for the Majority Leaders resignation.

who’s to blame?

that’s easy: Boner, Mitch the Biotch, and the rest of the Beltway RINOs who make up the GOPe.

they have no interest in leading, taking a stand, let alone criticism, or anything else beyond staying in proximity to power there in DC, and thus access to all the money & perks to be had in return for abrogating their duty to their country.

treasonous swine, the lot of them.

inspectorudy | March 5, 2015 at 5:57 pm

What about the 33% of Americans who stood and fought the king of England over taxation without representation? Was their fate less secure than the scum in DC today? Did they not only put their fortunes on the line but their LIVES as well? We now have king obama and there isn’t one patriot to fight him out of fear of the American voter! We are not the country we once were and it is due to no term limits. All this bunch care about is getting re-elected and to hell with the country and the Constitution.

Henry Hawkins | March 5, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Boehner attempted to pass a bill that would accomplish two things:

1. Convince conservatives that they were fighting amnesty, as promised during the 2014 midterms.

2. Fail to pass, lest GOPe’s corporate elites get miffed.

Well, one out of two ain’t bad.

The fault is not in our stars, it’s in GOP leadership. ALL of them.


Let’s please refer to John Boehner henceforth as Speaker Neanderthal. Why? Because he’s the Cave Man.

We already have a de facto American “Enabling Act”. In Weimar Germany, the the legislature admitted it was totally impotent and transferred all power to the Executive branch. The modern U.S. Congress, of course, is too impotent to put such a thing in writing, but the transfer of power is already a fact. It can’t happen here…

If McConnell had any leadership… get rid of filibuster. Good enough for Dems, good enough for Repubs.

When the Dems changed the rules of engagement we should have changed our rule book, but we didn’t.

I read someone else’s comment when it happened, but I don’t recall the author. Something to the effect of ‘don’t take a hostage you aren’t willing to shoot’, and they put forth the idea that if “R”s were serious, they would have withheld EPA or Dept of Education funding from the previous “give Dems everything” funding resolution and put them forth as the hostages to defund Amnesty.
When they didn’t hold out any Dem funding priorities, only Republican base priorities, they didn’t really care about “winning”.

    I believe I am the one you were referring to. I’ve said it all along this result was baked into the cake back in November 2014. I disagree with the current article that indicates republicans had no plan. Republican leadership had a plan. It was to fund Obama’s amnesty while pretending they didn’t want to. Their plan worked. GOP leadership is in the pocket of huge corporations and the Chamber of Commerce the same as democrats. The only thing GOP leadership wants from the base is their money and their votes. They definitely do not want the base’s ideas.

    The next part of the GOP establishment plan will come in September 2015 when after another round of pretend Kabuki theater the GOP establishment will declare they can’t defund amnesty or accomplish anything else the base wants and risk government shut down going into 2016 election year. So they will pretend they are beaten by the democrats again into fully funding Obama and democrat amnesty and all other priorities through after the 2016 election in November 2016.

    I do agree however, that more of the blame for constructing this whole fiasco and GOP establishment plan for defeat lies with McConnell, McCain, Cornyn, Graham. These old dinosaurs in the Senate that keep screwing over the House and the base all need to get into one motorcade and promptly drive over a 1000 foot cliff. I’ve been wishing them dead of natural causes for 10 years.

Subotai Bahadur | March 5, 2015 at 7:25 pm

As late as Monday evening, prior to the House’s passage of Tuesday’s ‘clean’ funding bill, Speaker Boehner and House leadership were promising to hold the line and fight.

By the Vaporous Gonads of the Holy Ghost! Is there anything more certain in the political world than if Boehner promises to fight, that the deal has already been cut to surrender to the Left? And that he will attack anyone who wanted to fight as the real enemy.

snopercod has it down to a “T”. This IS an Enabling Act. It gave legislative approval and funding to the President’s claim of the power to rule by decree in defiance of statutes and the Constitution.

It was not because the DIABLO Party was outmaneuvered by the Leftists. It was not because the DIABLO’s did not have the leverage or Constitutional backing to beat the Left.


We live in a one-Party State. There is no longer any doubt. In a one-Party State, electoral and legislative politics are moot, with all that implies. There is no reason to even pretend that voting for either the Democrats or the DIABLO’s makes any difference at all.

One-Party States have another characteristic. They don’t have real elections. Either they are cancelled, or they are totally rigged. Anyone willing to argue that somehow we are the exception? If you do, show your work.

A third characteristic of one-Party States is that the Judiciary is corrupt or ignored. Ours is both. Obama already ignores court rulings it does not like, stalls on every judicial procedure, ignores subpoenas OR deliberately falsifies evidence and commits perjury either directly or through his underlings.

The final defining characteristic of one-Party States is how they are finally overturned. I will leave that for the reader to research.

we have a one party system.. You have to have a good financial backing to even think of running for the Washington elite club. The only difference to us is whether you want to be robbed from your left pocket or robbed from the right pocket. The media is so biased either conservative or liberal that if you want to hear what really is going on you have to tune in the Rt (Russian Channel) or the comedy channel. The 1% and international corporations run this country now and mostly because the Supreme Court has been ruling for the moneyed interestes since the 1930s(think IRS giving major breaks to Elite who dont have to work for a livingNow the court decided if you have the money you can buy elections in all 50 states without living in one

And how about the major banks (think Goldman Sacks, Citi corp) They made money causing a real estate bubble and then got bonuses for it.. Some heads should have rolled!! The only reason AIG got bailled out was because it insured Goldman Sacks and if it went under Goldman Sacks would have lost billions and Hank Paulson or Larry Summers couldnt let that happen to their Alma Mater.. I could write a book on this conflict of interest and revolving door alone. Besides, both parties get very hefty contributions fromthe financial sector.. We need some new supreme court justices who know how to read, then we can repeal some of these bogus legal rulings.

    Ragspierre in reply to brucenc1. | March 6, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Yeah, no. You’re either a liar or an economics ignoramus.

    Banks did not CAUSE the housing bubble, nor the mortgage lending crisis. They contributed, but so did ordinary Americans.

    That kind of IMMENSE market distortion can only come from BIG GOVERNMENT, which it did.

    And there ARE heads that should be rolling, but they belong MOSTLY to people like Ball-less Bill Clinton, Janet Reno, Bwany Fwank, Chris “Sandwich” Dodd, Jaime Gorelick, etc.

    Also, I’ll just take the opportunity to call out your false moral equivalency WRT the two parties and Wall Street contributions.

    PLUS, the DOJ has been firmly in Holder’s control, so if you wanted prosecutions, you know who to blame for their absence.

One other thing why do conservatives keep acting like they are so moral and religious when they only read the parts out of the bible they want to believe in and disregard the rest.. No, I am not a liberal or progressive, I think both partts are so flawed that we need to start over…. I do believe we need to help the poor, the sick and the economically disabled, “Am I not my brothers…, but we should not give free handouts… Give the welfare receivers a job doing something,, surely we have public services they can help out with even if it means sweeping a floor. Surely that would get them motivated to find a real job and satisfaction that they are contributing to their welfare and to society.

    Your comment reads as one by an old-time Democrat; the type who knew that the Government was American, just and had a role to play. Those where good people.

    That party is dead, that government is dead.

    I wish you well.

One last thing I need to mention for anyone I didn’t put to sleep yet..
We need term limits for all Federal politicians.. After they make a law they need to get back into the real world outside the DC beltway, and live by it. They also need to show they have morals and ethics( I know, I know nobodys perfect .. But when you are making laws that 200+ million people have to abide by , when you have that kind of control and power you cant have the morals of George Bush or William Clinton)..
AND WE NEED PUBLIC FINANCING OF CAMPAIGNS… The only way to get a fair election is when only humans can vote, but since the latest Supreme Court blunder allowing corporation to give unlimited funding to campaigns, we need to get the money out of it. I thought the preamble said ….”of the people for the people and by the people”.. Where did It say anything about corporations. The corporation is a legal entity that protects owners from personal liabilty, that in itself doesnt make it a person represented by the United States

Its time to start a new party not tarnished by big money and we need it now !!!

Back up. They lost this fight last fall, when they funded Obama’s Un-Constitutional Amnesty and punted the “fight” to the next Congress.

NEVER should have funded it in the first place.

That’s what allowed the D’s to claim to be simply asking for a “clean DHS bill” this time. Better to have refused funding it from the get go, then it never would have become part of the baseline spending.

    Aarradin in reply to Aarradin. | March 6, 2015 at 2:17 am

    Oh yeah, if you were surprised Boehner folded – or even thought for a minute that his “strong” stance (including berating Senate R’s for not standing firm) then you haven’t been paying attention AT ALL for the past six years – even before he became Speaker he was a wuss.

Dear Kemberlee,

You seem to be a bit confused. When you say, for example, that once the senate caved, Boehner had no choice, you’re simply wrong. He had plenty of choices. He could even have tried simply holding the line and letting things play out. You see, as Speaker of the House he has a huge amount of power over the agenda.He could have chosen to use his power.

What he doesn’t have is the willingness to fight.

And don’t even bring up that ridiculous tired old line about how “The Republicans always get blamed for a shutdown.” Doing what you know is wrong because you’re afraid of being blamed for the consequences of doing what is right is a perfectly reasonable definition of the word COWARDICE.

McConnell really was to blame for the complete absence of fight in the senate. He’s always been a useless tool. But Boehner didn’t have to go along with him. They are separate houses and neither can command the other.

But never mind all that. You go ahead and make excuses for the Republican “Leadership.” Maybe there’s more money in that.


Former Republicans Everywhere.

Henry Hawkins | March 6, 2015 at 12:57 pm

The last remaining hopes I had for Boehner evaporated a few weeks ago when he bitched about the right end of his own party and declared that he was Tea Party before there even was a Tea Party. Boehner either believes this, revealing a scary lack of insight, or he expects us to believe it, revealing an extremely negative opinion of his own party members.

You have all witnessed in real-time what I call the “Embrace, Extend, Execute” strategy that Boehner employs (I ripped off the term from the software realm where it was used to explain Microsoft’s tactics vs Java)

Embrace: Boehner promises to do everything in his power to defeate Executive Amnesty.

Extend: Boehner funds Exectuve amnesty and stretches the time out on the issue for several months, promising to fight on DHS funding.During the DHS “fight” he pretends for a bit and then

Execute: Boehner stabs you in the back.

Most of the arguing and commenting here on LI happens during the “Embrace and Execute” stages where those who suspected that Boehner was up to no good went head to head with those who thought/think that Boehner is acting in good faith.

I hope it is clear now what small, corrupt, petty dishonorable, lying “men” these GOPe types are. Nothing they say is to be taken at face value. Their word is not their bond. They lie.