Saturday, March 7, 2015

Democrats Benefit From GOP's Internal Struggles

WASHINGTON (AP) — Winners in a bruising struggle with Republicans over homeland security funding and immigration, minority Democrats had unity on their side, along with a politician's understandable fear of terrorist attacks and the Constitution's separation of powers.

The tea party-aligned, bitter-end Republican losers had outrage, and in the House, an unbending unwillingness to compromise that some of their own rank and file judged counterproductive.

The result was a rout that some Republicans say — and Democrats no doubt hope — portends poorly for their party.

Republicans "have got to find a level of cohesion where we can at least pass legislation that we get to the president's desk," said Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida as the party's attempt to roll back President Barack Obama's immigration directives flamed out. "If we can't do that, we fail to govern and we lose 2016."

Whatever the long-term implications of Republican divisions, the lessons of this one episode seem simple.

In the current version of divided government, Republicans must avoid significant divisions of their own and have enough Democratic votes in the Senate to assure passage of legislation they favor. They hold the biggest majority in decades in the House. Yet on the pivotal vote of the struggle, an attempt by their own leadership to pass a three-week stand-alone funding bill, more than 50 defected, empowering Democrats.

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