In the hundreds of hallway interviews I’ve listened to with GOP lawmakers, the inability of Republicans to get on the same page has been striking.
“There’s a lot of frustration, a lot of different directions,” said U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, after yet another closed-door GOP meeting.
Republicans know they don’t like what Democrats are offering. But the GOP can’t seem to develop their own way forward.
When ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy cut a debt limit deal with President Biden to forge a two-year spending freeze — many House Republicans refused to accept it — but had no alternative.
While Republicans promised ‘regular order’ on spending, a key House panel hasn’t produced the 12 bills that fund the government.
Faced with a government shutdown on Sept. 30, House Republicans couldn’t pass anything and had to rely on Democrats to approve a short-term funding plan.
It’s almost like the prototypical GOP member of Congress now is not a ‘law maker’ per se — because laws are not really their goal.
For example, House Republicans this year passed major bills on domestic energy production, health care, COVID fraud, and border security funding — but haven’t sent those bills to the Senate for action.
Over in the Senate, Republicans have been working with Democrats to craft spending and defense bills — but the seeds of GOP turmoil are also evident.
One Republican Senator has blocked the promotions of hundreds of career military officers. Another blocked all Justice Department nominations. A third stopped all State Department nominees.
It’s the same story on legislation. One GOP Senator blocked three government funding bills, while another vowed to block anything that is not a government funding bill.
That may be a solid strategy for obstruction — but it’s not really a plan for governing.
And as House Republicans struggled to pick a Speaker, some lawmakers said this week that the GOP needs to try a new legislative strategy.
“We need a plan more than a person,” said U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark.
Like Casey Stengel said — can’t anybody here play this game?
The answer right now inside the GOP is — maybe not — and a new House Speaker may not make much of a difference.
Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com