Congress, govern, Republicans, GOP, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, DACA, government shutdown

Why Can’t The Republicans Govern?

By Susan Kuebler

This is a question that all Republicans and most of America are asking.  For the first time in years, one party holds the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House.  Throughout the Obama presidency, the GOP leaders kept telling the voters “Just give us control and we will get things done.”

Well, we did and they aren’t.

Other than naming a new Supreme Court justice (after changing the rules of Senate to achieve that) and the passage of a potentially disastrous tax reform bill, the GOP has yet to achieve anything significant.  The government is expected to run out of money this Friday and Republicans on the Hill are saying they don’t have the votes to pass a Continuing Resolution to keep it from shutting down.

The absurdity of this is beyond belief.  They are the MAJORITY party.  Passing the funding for the government should be a no-brainer.  But there are several reasons why the GOP is struggling.

They Have a President Who Cannot Be Trusted

Donald Trump, the “The Art of the Deal” has broken so many deals reached between Republicans and Democrats that no one, especially the Democrats, can trust him to keep his word on anything.  The latest example happened just this week when he shot down the bi-partisan agreement reached on immigration legislation.  After saying earlier that he would sign any bill put in front of him, whether he agreed with it or not, Trump pulled the rug out from under these members of Congress by his adamant opposition to the diversity lottery system.

Donald Trump’s position on any issue seems to devolve from the latest person with whom he spoke.  His Secretary of State proposes a government position on Korea (and surely he would have spoken to the president about this first) the Trump sends out a tweet completely undermining aforesaid position.  His Chief of Staff John Kelly goes on Fox News to explain that Trump’s position on the Wall has “evolved.”   Trump shoots him down almost immediately.

Is it any wonder that Congress has no idea what it should do to appease a President who agrees on an issue one day, then turns around and does a complete 180 on it the next.

The Republican Leaders In Congress Can’t Control Their Members

The Republican Party is not a monolithic entity – no political party is – but the factions within the Republican Party in Congress, especially the highly conservative House Freedom caucus, have the votes to stop any legislation that doesn’t meet their criteria dead in its tracks.  Paul Ryan, the reluctant Speaker of the House, simply doesn’t know how to bring these recalcitrant members into line on important legislation.

The same can be said for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose majority in the Senate is much smaller than Ryan’s in the House.  Effective leaders know how to make deals or wield whips to ensure they get their legislation passed.  They have the power to make committee assignments, to determine which member’s bill gets brought to the floor for consideration.  They can even decide on where a member’s office is located.  But either McConnell and Ryan are unwilling or unable to employ their power effectively.

Gone are the days of Tip O’Neill and Lyndon Johnson, two of the most effective leaders in the House and Senate.  But Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, no matter what you may think of them personally, are able to persuade or cajole their respective members into toeing the party line.  This presents a formidable foe to the fractious and fractured Republican majorities.

Republicans Insist on Supporting Unpopular Legislation

Congress enjoys the dubious distinction of enjoying even lower approval ratings than the most unpopular president in recent history.  They are not helping their cause by trying to pass legislation that most of  the nation does not want in order to fulfill a deficient President’s campaign promises.

Only 29% of the American people supported the recent tax reform legislation that Congress passed. (Gallup)

A vast majority –  73% of the American people support the DACA/Dreamers program, allowing them to remain in the country legally (Quinnipiac Poll) while 49% oppose tying approval of the DACA program to the funding of Trump’s Wall.

The Impending Government Shutdown

For the first time in modern history, we are facing a government shutdown when a single party controls both Congress and the White House.  They are desperately trying to place the blame on the Democrats somehow.  Instead it has been the Republicans who have been holding children hostage by failing to authorize funding for the critical CHIP healthcare program as well as passing a clean act on DACA.

They are also fearmongering, claiming that a shutdown would adversely affect our military.  (It won’t).

They Put Party Over Country

America is sick and tired of spineless, mealy mouthed politicians who place party and power above country.  When the best response that Paul Ryan can come up with after Trump’s infamous “s$ithole countries” remark is that it was “unfortunate” we no longer have the separation of powers written in to our Constitution.

Congress passed by supermajorities in both houses the Russia Sanctions Bill last summer.  The Trump administration faced an October 1st deadline to report to Congress on the steps it had taken to implement these sanctions. To date, no such report has been received.  And Congress has said – absolutely nothing.

With the mid-term elections occurring later this year, perhaps it is time to give the Democrats the chance to govern the country.  Because the Republicans have definitely blown their opportunities to show that they are capable of doing it.

"All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well". Julian of Norwich.

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