Remember when The Most Important Thing In The Universe was the border crisis? Remember when Republicans were running around with their hair on fire telling us that President Obama had to deal with this imminent threat to the stability of the Republic now now now? Remember when the Very Smart People told us that, for once, Republicans and Democrats would put aside their differences and agree on legislation to deal with the crisis, because doing nothing was simply not an option?
Well, guess what?
Congress might punt again on a border funding bill when it returns in September.During the summer, Greg Sargent of The Washington Post assured us that there might be a struggle, but we could pretty much count on gridlock being broken in this instance:
The House and Senate scrambled to move bills to give federal agencies extra money to handle the surge in unaccompanied child migrants crossing the southern border before their five-week recess.
But lawmakers ultimately left town in August without sending a measure to President Obama's desk or with concrete plans for how they will handle the issue when they return.
The two chambers found themselves far apart, with House Republicans approving a $694 million bill and the Senate failing to move their $2.7 billion measure.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month said he was "left with no choice" and shifted $405 million away from other homeland security programs to provide sufficient resources at the border.
Johnson urged lawmakers to approve the Obama administration's $3.7 billion request when it reconvenes....
But now the House might not even take up border funding when it comes back to Washington. Some House Republicans question whether extra money is really needed, noting that DHS has the ability to reallocate funds.
"Currently, it is not clear that additional funding would be necessary," said an aide on the House Appropriations Committee....
Despite Boehner's public rhetoric, there are signs he wants to get to Yes on funding the response to the crisis, probably because saying No is terrible politics for the GOP. Politico reports that Boehner privately told Republicans they should approve it before August recess. Meanwhile, some Republican officials and strategists are warning that failing to come through with funding is not a political option.Gee, I guess failing to come through with funding was a political option after all -- not just before the August recess, but after it as well.
Forget about politics, though. What about policy? Don't Republicans care deeply about this issue?
No. They care about demagoguing the president. Once the opportunities to do that were pretty much exhausted (largely because Obama took steps to discourage the influx of child migrants, steps that in some cases led to the children's deaths), Republicans realized they'd accomplished everything they set out to accomplish and moved on to new damagoguing opportunities. (As I type this, I'm seeing reports that ISIS has beheaded a second American reporter, Steven Sotloff. ISIS had been the be the prime topic of GOP demagoguery in recent weeks, and this murder will extend that streak.)
Republicans don't care about issues. Republicans care only about opportunities to denigrate Democrats. Here's Republican policy on every issue: Obama sucks. And that's clearly all the policy they need, because they're going to win the midterms with nothing else to offer.