It took the House GOP leadership a couple of weeks, but it finally conceded defeat Tuesday and allowed a “clean” funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security to come up for a vote. With all 182 Democrats in the Capitol and 75 of the 242 Republicans lining up in favor, the measure passed easily and was sent to President Obama to sign.
The question now is whether the Republican majority has learned not to pick fights they don’t have the votes to win, or whether they’ll overplay their hand again the next time a must-pass bill comes up. Given what we’ve seen the past lour years, the latter seems more likely.
The Homeland Security measure isn’t exactly “clean” because it contains numerous policy changes negotiated by Republican and Democratic appropriators, such as one stepping up the department’s ability to detain people caught crossing the border illegally. What it doesn’t have are the House-passed riders that would have reversed Obama’s temporary deferrals of some deportations.
It’s rare to see House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) bring anything to the floor that doesn’t have at least 218 Republican votes, and rarer still to see anything that most Republicans oppose. But Boehner reportedly  told Republicans in a private meeting that they had run out of options. There weren’t enough votes in the House for another stop-gap funding bill, and Senate Democrats wouldn’t let that chamber even consider a measure that rolled back President Obama’s immigration orders.
That brings us to a crucial point that, sadly, continues to be lost on many House Republicans: The filibuster is a very powerful thing. As long as it’s available to Democrats, Republicans won’t be able to move anything through that chamber without the help of at least six members not in their party.
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