NYT's New Fave Topic: How GOP Congress Is Wrecking Party Hopes for 2016

February 25th, 2015 10:19 AM

Tuesday's New York Times featured a front-page "congressional memo" by Carl Hulse and Ashley Parker devoted to the paper's new favorite topic: How the GOP-led Congress is staining the party's reputation for 2016: "Funding Fight Poses Dangers For the G.O.P. -- Battle on Immigration Puts Security at Issue."

The prominently placed off-lead story put the Republicans on the backfoot from sentence one, predicting political fallout from the GOP adding measures to a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that would block President Obama's unilateral amnesty move.

Even though the Democrats engineered a filibuster of the DHS spending in order to keep Obama's executive actions alive, there were no lectures in the Times on how Democrats are endangering national security. The word "filibuster" didn't even appear in the story until paragraph 11.

After promising an era of responsible governing and an end to federal shutdowns, congressional Republicans find themselves mired in an immigration fight that could cause funding for the Department of Homeland Security to run out on Friday.

It is a risky moment for the new congressional majority. A nasty partisan impasse over funding for a vital agency would probably damage the party’s brand just months after Republicans took power, and the impact could carry over into the next election cycle.

National Review had a reverse point of view absent from the Times' front page, pinning the blame on the party that's actually engineering the filibuster.

Senate Democrats are filibustering a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which runs out of spending authority February 26, because it also blocks a number of President Obama’s unilateral executive actions on immigration.....there is no time like the present, and the funding bill is a perfectly appropriate vehicle. The amnesty program is about to begin, and once underway, it will almost be impossible to reverse. Both parties make a routine practice of attaching riders to funding bills; it’s not procedure that Democrats object to, but the notion of doing anything real to reverse Obama’s power grab.

Back in Times-land, it was business as usual Republican blaming.

While addressing the National Governors Association, the president warned of the effects of a Department of Homeland Security shutdown on states’ economies.

“It’s another way to get the Senate unstuck,” Mr. McConnell said. He acted after Senate Democrats for a fourth time blocked Republicans in their efforts to force debate on a $40 billion Homeland Security measure that would gut President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The vote was 47 to 46, well short of the 60 needed.

The paper pinned its hopes on "more moderate Republicans" riding to the nation's rescue.

By Monday evening, however, at least a handful of more moderate Republicans had begun suggesting that the court’s ruling might allow them to pass a clean spending bill.

“I’ve always thought the judicial system was an alternative way to deal with the president’s overreach last November, and now that one court has ruled to put a stay on his executive order, perhaps that frees us to go forward and get the department fully funded,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine.

The Times stood up for the "Dreamers" again, under attack by "harsh" conservatives opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Unlike the provisions the House sent over to halt Mr. Obama’s executive actions, Mr. McConnell’s proposal does not seek to undo the legal protections provided to the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers -- something even some Republicans said they thought was too harsh.

As the administration on Monday requested a stay of the Texas ruling, Mr. Obama told a gathering of the nation’s governors that a shutdown would hurt the rebounding economy. “We can’t afford to play politics with our national security,” he said.

Many Republicans acknowledge that they will get most of the blame, just as they did in October 2013 -- and, for that matter, in 1995 during the shutdown in the Clinton administration.

And just who is responsible for doling out that blame?

Hulse and Parker were eager to portray the fight as a political defeat for the Republicans, and condescended to conservatives who apparently don't know how the political game is played.

The funding fight has stifled momentum that Republicans carried into the new Congress. They posted a few quick victories, including approval of a lapsed terrorism insurance program and a veterans suicide prevention measure that had been blocked in December. They also pushed through a measure to expedite construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and allowed a robust fight on the floor in line with Mr. McConnell’s pledge to restore “regular order” in the Senate.

But the funding fight has tied the Senate in knots for weeks, preventing Republicans from moving ahead on other legislation they had hoped to advance.

As they brace for a possible shutdown, leading Republicans say their colleagues need to embrace the reality that their new congressional majorities simply do not give them the power to force through provisions that Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats are dead set against.

Veteran reporter Hulse has been particularly enamored of late with the wishful idea that Republicans have already spoiled their changes in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.