Lord of the Flies
by Matt Stoller, Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 04:35:53 PM EDT
Without Tom Delay, the House Republican leadership is collapsing. According to Congress Daily [sub], the House Budget Committee and Appropriations Committee are tussling over emergency disaster aid.
House Appropriations Chairman Lewis is opposing the FY07 budget resolution because of a proposal to cap emergency disaster aid, and he is whipping members of his panel to do the same, creating a headache for his party's leaders. GOP leaders already face defections from 10 to 15 moderates because of what they consider insufficient discretionary spending levels. Additionally, a handful of conservatives might defect, leaving leaders well short of votes in a chamber divided 231-202. House Majority Leader Boehner would not commit today to a vote before next week's Easter recess. "We are working hard to get a budget," he said. "We're working with members on all sides of this issue and trying to come to an agreement."
The fight is pitting moderates against conservatives, and it has escalated into a Committee turf war, with the Appropriations Committee fighting the Budget Committee. Moderates and conservatives are threatening to defect from a final vote, and Pelosi's caucus isn't allowing the House leadership any room.
There were always tensions within the Republican party. Without Delay and his soothing stream of money, the carrot for cooperation is gone. Meanwhile, the movement conservatives are agitating for spending cuts, because they are freed from the constraints that Delay's machine was putting on them and they are running as fast as they can from their conservative failed President. This is breaking party discipline, the machine is coming unglued. Right now, Republicans are working together out of habit and fear of the Democrats, but it's not clear how long that's going to last.
With all the major players in the conservative movement protecting themselves or in weakened positions, the Republican Party is operating blind, with members acting independently and aggressively against each other. They are even starting to work against each other openly, which has previously been the province of the Democratic Party.
This is a very good thing. It helps create a better narrative for Democrats in 2006, but it also allows Republicans to have a much needed debate about where their party is going. A healthy Republican Party is critical for our democracy. Right now, it is full of malignant corruption. The removal of the leadership class will hopefully allow new and more honest and progressive voices a place.