Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Comentarios From Maria: John Boehner’s lack of leadership and its disastrous consequences

mariaWe’ve seen this movie before, and we know that it does not end well. In 2013, Republicans in Congress demonstrated that they were willing to shut down the government and lead our country to the brink of disaster because the battle over the end of year budget did not sway in their favor.  Now, Republicans are allowing history to repeat itself by refusing to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the end of the year unless that funding is tied to the repeal of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

We should acknowledge that the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, took the important and necessary step toward divorcing the amendments blocking the president’s executive orders from DHS funding. Furthermore, many republican members of the Senate, including Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham repeatedly reminded their colleagues in the House of Representatives that it is more important to protect the country than oppose the president.  By Thursday afternoon, the Senate came to a bipartisan agreement on a new version of the funding bill that did not jeopardize the department’s funding.

Even in the face of real and growing threats to our national security, a logical next step for the House of Representatives would be to align themselves with the Senate and the White House to approve the DHS budget. Yet things are never really quite so simple with this Republican Congress.  Many ultraconservative members of the House have indicated that they would not support a bill that does not block the president’s actions. In fact, various members have insinuated that House Speaker John Boehner runs the risk of losing his title in the future if he decides to work with democrats to approve this plan.

The truth is that this is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, in which republicans have a legislative solution in plain sight and refuse to take action because of the tantrums of their extremist base.  Some of you may recall that in 2013, Boehner had the option of approving a just immigration reform bill designed by a bipartisan coalition in the Senate. Yet they did not do it, and republicans now want to pursue a strategy that deports every undocumented immigrant that would benefit from the president’s executive order.  This republican incompetence and ignorance would cost the country more than $50.3 billion to deport this population of immigrants, according to a study conducted by the Center for American Progress (CAP).

The department’s financing is still on the line because Republicans in the House of Representatives opted for a short-term funding bill that runs out at the end of the week.  It is my hope that this budgetary battle will have a positive outcome. Yet if the last few weeks are any indication of the direction Republicans are headed in, I fear this will not be the case. Boehner has a very clear choice – either put the security of the country first, or continue allowing the far-right to paralyze the country in order to preserve his title. It is time for Boehner to realize that the leadership our country deserves is the kind that places the interests of the country above all.

This piece originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.