Last night, John Boehner convinced 162 House Republicans to vote for a bill funding the federal government, with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security, through September. Boehner couldn't convince 67 House Republicans to vote for the bill, but it passed the House, since the White House was able to convince 57 House Democrats to back Boehner's bill.
Although the vote was on an arcane spending bill, it represented yet another gross betrayal of Republican voters by Republican leaders. After President Obama announced his illegal executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants—which even Yale Law School professor Peter Schuck conceded was an impeachable offense—Republican leaders were filled with outrage, when preening before the TV cameras. But, in quieter venues, they did everything they could to scuttle any effective measure to thwart Obama's executive amnesty.
First, they declared that impeachment was off the table. Then, they said that any effort to defund the amnesty was also off the table, because Congress could not defund programs paid for by fees, as many immigration programs are. After the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service provided many examples of Congress successfully shutting down programs paid for by fees, some Republican leaders still stuck to that line, while others said that they couldn't defund Obama's amnesty because they couldn't risk a government shutdown.
Last night's vote showed how disingenuous that last argument was. The reason Barack Obama had to corral recalcitrant Democrats to vote for the bill was because the GOP leadership—which refused to allow any rider defunding the Obama amnesty—had allowed 100 other riders. One of these scuttled regulations limiting the ability of banks to trade on derivatives. And this last rider nearly caused the government shutdown the GOP leaders said they couldn't allow. In other words, the GOP leadership was willing to go the mat to help the big banks, but wouldn't lift a finger to stop Obama's disastrous executive amnesty.
Millions of people who voted for the GOP in last month's midterm elections did so because they were opposed to the amnesty Obama had said was coming after the elections. No ordinary Americans voted for the GOP because they wanted more gambling on derivatives by banks. When campaigning, the GOP professes its fealty to Bedford Falls. But, in power, it chooses Pottersville time after time again.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.