Rep. John Delaney (D-6) bolted his party and voted in favor of Republican Speaker John Boehner’s proposal for a three-week extension of funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Rep. Andy Harris (R-1) defied the wrath of the tea party, which opposes any bill that does not undo President Obama’s executive orders on immigration, by also supporting the bill.
The failure of Boehner’s bill to pass on a 203-224 vote represented a major defeat for the Speaker. Democrats wanted a clean longer-term funding bill and largely united behind Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s opposition to the three-week extension that would leave the country facing the same dilemma in three weeks.
Boehner could have easily passed a clean bill through the House through a bipartisan coalition but refused to allow a vote because it violated the “Hastert rule” of only moving forward on legislation that commands a majority within the Republican Caucus. As usual, that isn’t working out so well for him.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s strategy has been sound for a number of reasons. First, it highlighted the inability of Republicans in Congress to govern due to their rogue wing. Boehner needs Democratic support to make the House work.
On this specific issue, it looks like a total win for Democrats. Boehner got a one-week extension and will either have to pass a clean funding bill for DHS or shut it down–untenable in the face of Republican trumpeting of the importance of security in fighting the War on Terror in the wake of events in Europe.
Rumor has it that Boehner promised a vote on a clean bill to gain the support from either Republicans who favor that option–if only as it is inevitable anyway and opposing it is just killing the GOP in the public eye–or the Democrats. However, Boehner denies it, which just leaves him twisting in the wind.
While Rep. Delaney issued a press release touting his support for a bill providing back pay for DHS employees in the event of a shutdown, he did not issue a similar explanation of his break from the Democrats on this key vote.
Rep. Harris has expressed pride that the House has held to its position that Obama’s immigration executive orders must be undone legislatively in order for DHS funding to pass. But he has not issued a press release explaining why he did not join tea party representatives in opposing any further funding without achieving this goal.