By Robert A. Vella
For nearly a year, the GOP establishment and the Tea Party put aside their tactical differences in order to devastate a rudderless Democratic Party in the 2014 midterm elections. But now, with Republicans in firm control of the U.S. Congress as well as the governorships and legislatures in most states, the so-called GOP Civil War is heating back up. The bone of contention this time, which has underscored much of the Republicans’ previous intra-party disputes, centers on using government defunding schemes to overturn official actions which advance social justice issues.
Late last year, following years of increased pressure from Hispanic groups and their supporters, President Obama finally eased his administration’s policies regarding the deportation of undocumented residents. His executive orders were scathingly rebuked by the GOP’s conservative right-wing which represents a primarily white and intensely xenophobic constituency. Soon thereafter, Tea Party members began looking for upcoming budget items which they could employ as leverage against the President. The one they chose was a funding re-authorization for the Department of Homeland Security.
Stung by their government shutdown debacle over Obamacare in 2013, the GOP establishment didn’t want to go down that dangerous road again especially with the 2016 presidential election looming. However, they are struggling once more to contain a Tea Party insurgency. From Politico – Congress passes one-week DHS fix:
The House voted late Friday to stave off a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security for another week, narrowly averting a funding lapse for the agency that has become the battleground over President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
The vote was 357-60. The Senate approved the stopgap measure earlier Friday evening and it was signed by Obama minutes before the midnight deadline when the department’s funding was to expire.
The 11th-hour move came after dozens of House Republicans dealt a humiliating defeat to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders. Conservatives teamed up with Democrats to shoot down a Boehner-backed measure that would have funded DHS for three weeks.
Boehner’s allies are concerned after Friday’s setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if — as expected — he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week. While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility.
Further reading: Many Republicans gambling that a new shutdown would not hurt their party