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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ever since Republicans first devised their ill-conceived plan to use funding for the Department of Homeland Security as a hostage in hopes of forcing President Obama to abandon his immigration policy, the gambit was doomed to eventual failure.

On Tuesday, the debacle reached its logical conclusion. Hours after Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) acknowledged defeat, the House of Representatives ended the game and passed a bill funding DHS through September, without preconditions. The bill passed the house 257 to 167, with just 75 Republicans joining the Democratic minority to keep the department open.

There was never any real doubt that this would be the outcome. Since the equally poorly-thought-out government shutdown of 2013, President Obama has made it clear that he will not give in to Republican attempts to use must-pass spending bills to blackmail him into dismantling his agenda. The Department of Homeland Security was always a poor target for a hostage, given its importance to national security — and the fact that shutting it down would do nothing to stop President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. And voters were always going to blame Republicans, not Democrats, for a crisis that the GOP created.

Still, House Republicans insisted on dragging the crisis out until the last second, and managed to undermine Speaker Boehner’s tenuous authority in the process. Yet again.

So will this latest humiliation convince Boehner and his caucus to rethink their strategy of government-by-crisis? It’s unlikely; if the “fiscal cliff,” the government shutdown, and repeated debt ceiling standoffs (among other House-made emergencies) didn’t change their course, there’s no reason to believe that the DHS near-shutdown will be different.

In related news, on Tuesday the Congressional Budget Office announced that the debt ceiling will have to be increased in October or November.

Photo: Speaker Boehner via Flickr

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