When Congress was fighting over disaster relief funding in 2011, House Republicans passed a watered down funding bill and warned Senate Democrats not to block it. “Time for the Senate to do it’s [sic] job, stop threatening shutdown, stop playing politics, fund FEMA, and pass the CR,” Brad Dayspring, then a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), tweeted. There was only one catch: the Senate had already passed a bill funding disaster relief.
House Republicans are attempting a similar strategy now, just two days before the government’s spending authority for transportation expires. The Senate passed a bipartisan transportation bill last week, while House Republican leadership has struggled to get its conservative flank on board with any of its proposals.
Democrats have indeed blocked versions of the House’s disastrous transportation bill in an effort to get the bipartisan Senate bill, which garnered 22 Republican votes, passed through the House. But Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has ignored the Senate bill and has been unable to line up Republicans behind any of his proposals. Now, his spokesperson is attempting to blame Democrats for the GOP leadership’s inability to pass an extension, The Hill reports:
A spokesman for Boehner said Wednesday that the GOP had only moved to consideration of a 60-day extension because Democrats had said they would support it. The spokesman, Michael Steel, said that the fate of the extension of transportation funding is now “up to Democratic leadership.”
“It’s their choice as to whether to work in a bipartisan fashion or play political games with our country’s economy,” Steel said in a statement.
At least one Republican recognizes how ridiculous the GOP’s attempts to blame Democrats are. Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) told reporters Wednesday that the GOP’s strategy was to “pray the Senate doesn’t call our bluff.”
The Senate’s two-year package would save an estimated 1.9 million jobs and create as many as 1 million more, according to the bill’s bipartisan sponsors. In the event of a shutdown, the Highway Trust Fund, which funds infrastructure projects, would lose $110 million a day in gas tax revenues, and states would be forced to delay entire transportation projects. Instead of passing that bill, though, House Republicans are planning to pass a short-term extension before skipping town for recess, leaving the Senate to clean up their mess.