Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More Republican Infighting

Well, looks like things continue not to be hunky-dory on the Hill. In fact, according to the Hill, Republicans continue to have internal fights over spending, immigration, ethics, and probably anything else you can name:

More splits in House GOP ranks
By Patrick O’Connor

As the midterm elections loom and concern about maintaining their majority hold on the House increases, rank-and-file Republicans have grown more and more combative with their leaders and themselves.

In the past two weeks, Republican House members have sparred openly on the House floor and have criticized their Speaker behind closed doors.

With immigration reform, an update of the Voting Rights Act and a series of appropriations bills among the few big-ticket items remaining on this year’s legislative calendar, it is unlikely these intraparty squabbles will die down any time soon, particularly as vulnerable Republicans seek to distance themselves from their party and their president.

While bickering is a constant on Capitol Hill, the recent rancor illustrates the election-year self-interest of individual members that could make it increasingly difficult for leaders to tackle controversial legislation. In turn, the growing discord could help paint the GOP as divided.

With all eyes on immigration, spending restraint continues to be the quiet issue that divides congressional Republicans this year. Members were forced to postpone a vote on the supplemental spending bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq until after the Memorial Day recess because House and Senate negotiators were unable to settle on a final bill.

In the House, Republicans have been arguing internally about this issue all year.

Last week, during a closed-door meeting of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), Reps. John Carter (Texas) and Zach Wamp (Tenn.), who both serve on the Appropriations Committee, criticized some of their colleagues for raising points of order to strip $507 million in construction projects from a military spending bill two weeks ago.

Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) openly rebuked Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who chairs the RSC, for stripping the money in a rare public showdown among congressional Republicans on the House floor.

Carter and Wamp told RSC members during the group’s regular Wednesday meeting that it would be more effective if they worked with conservatives on the Appropriations Committee behind the scenes before taking something directly to the House floor.

“They should talk to [RSC members on the committee] and maybe we can resolve the situation,” Carter said Thursday, adding that the military spending bill was bad legislation on which to highlight spending cuts. “I didn’t think it was a good place to pick a fight.”

...In an issue that dominated headlines last week, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) endured modest criticism from some members during a closed-door meeting Thursday convened to discuss a recent FBI raid on the congressional office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.).

During the meeting, members echoed the concerns of their constituents in criticizing Hastert for appearing to protect a Democratic member of Congress who, according to court documents, has been videotaped receiving $100,000 in cash, $90,000 of which was later discovered in his freezer.

In an indirect rebuke of the Speaker, Republican Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.) announced Friday that she would introduce a resolution condemning Hastert’s efforts to protect congressional offices from a raid by federal law enforcement officers.

“I am extremely disappointed that some in this body — including the Speaker and the Minority Leader [Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)] — feel that somehow our actions are sacrosanct and above public scrutiny,” Brown-Waite said in a release sent out by her office. “We are sending the wrong message to our constituents when we say that Congress is off limits to federal inspection.”

Brown-Waite said she does not intend her resolution to be a direct affront to the Speaker. She said it was meant to reflect the frustration she has heard from her constituents. “I understand their ire,” she said.

Well, so there's infighting. There was TONS of infighting on the Yankees teams of Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Goose Gossage, and Billy Martin? Perhaps House Republicans are simply waiting for the pressure, when they'll truly shine?

Oh, and let's make it official: Ginny Brown-Waite DOES win my play of the week. Presumably she'll find a Democratic cosponsor to claim the award with her.

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