by Leonora Cravotta
Clash Daily Contributor
Dissatisfaction and chaos are permeating the two Republican-controlled legislative chambers. On July 24, GOP candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) used the platform of the Senate floor to accuse Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) of flat-out lying with regard to his plans for the future of the Export-Import Bank. And of course the footage of Senator Cruz’s outburst has gone viral. If that wasn’t enough, in the House, just this week Representative Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) filed a resolution to remove Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) from his position. What is driving this situation? Why is there so much dissatisfaction and political grandstanding in the Republican controlled congress?
Senator Cruz claims that back in May Majority Leader McConnell reached a “behind the scenes” deal with fellow GOP 2016 candidate Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) that he would permit a vote on the Export-Import Bank charter if the three senators would work to advance the Trade Promotion Authority Bill. Cruz claims that McDonnell, who opposes the Export-Import Bank, made the quid pro quo deal with the three senators but then later repeatedly denied that the deal took place. Cruz called McConnell a liar after McConnell took procedural steps on July 26 to reinstate the Export-Import Bank.
The Export-Import Bank is controversial because it is viewed as a slush fund for Democratic interests.
McConnell attempted to appease the Republicans upset about the revival of the Export-Import Bank by creating an amendment to the Transportation Bill which defunds Obamacare. This olive branch was also a colossal failure. And if that wasn’t enough, Cruz has further publicly slammed McConnell by saying that he is behaving like Harry Reid by limiting discussion on floor amendments.
The situation in the House is not much better. Representative Meadows offered a motion to have speaker Boehner vacate the chair of the House just before the House was about to go into a six week recess. Meadows delivered a very harsh rebuke of Boehner’s leadership accusing the leader of using the legislative calendar to manufacture crises to force members to vote for certain pieces of legislation. He has also accused Boehner of using the Rules Committee to limit amendments. The resolution reads “The “Speaker has, through inaction, caused the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American People,” …“Whereas the Speaker uses the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.”
Meadows and Boehner have a complicated history. Back in June, Meadows accused Boehner of punishing him for voting against the House on the Trade Promotion Authority Bill by temporarily removing him from his leadership of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee. While technically Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz officially removed Meadows, Meadows saw Boehner’s hand in his ousting.
Meadows also played a role in a 2013 House effort to oust Boehner from the House. There are many who think that Meadows’ action was ill-timed given that Congress is going into a six week recess and that he would have been better off if he had waited until after the recess to garner the 218 votes he needs. That being said, Congress will still have to allocate time and resources to go through the process of reviewing Meadows’ resolution.
While many say that actions like those taken by Senator Cruz and Representative Meadows are political stunts which serve as distractions to both legislators and the American people, they cannot be completely dismissed. For these “stunts” are reflective of leadership problems within Congress. Both Majority Leader McConnell and House Speaker Boehner have confidence issues with their chamber members. And if members of congress don’t have confidence in their leadership, the legislative calendar is going to reflect this lack of confidence. Important issues will be bottle-necked.
Furthermore, this perceived leadership vacuum is damaging the Republican Party. The American people are sick of the Washington climate of “politics as usual”. They want change. That is why Ted Cruz’s public rebuke of McConnell received so much attention. And as the 2016 presidential campaign evolves, we are going to continue to see candidates on both the right and the left positioning themselves as anti-Washington establishment candidates. After all, if the Senate Majority Leader is viewed as someone who caves under political pressure and the Republican House Leader is viewed as a bully, is it any wonder that the ultimate Washington outsider Donald Trump is rising in the polls?
Leonora Cravotta is the lead writer/editor for BugleCall.org; and the Co-Host for the Scott Adams Show, a political radio talk show. Her professional background includes over fifteen years in corporate and nonprofit marketing. She holds a B.A. in English and French from Denison University, an M.A. in English from University of Kentucky and an M.B.A. from Fordham University. The Scott Adams show is available on Buglecall.org, Red State Talk Radio, iTunes, Tune-In, Spreaker, Stitcher and Soundcloud.