Sen. Angus King (I-ME) tore into House Republicans on Saturday for roadblocking passage of government funding, saying that “they hate the government,” and are “holding the entire United States hostage” because they “don’t believe government can or should work.”
Speaking on MSNBC’s Up With Steve Kornacki, King also trashed the so-called ‘Hastert Rule,’ an informal agreement by Republicans including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) not to bring a bill up for a vote unless it can win the majority of the Republican caucus:
KING: If [Bohener] brought the continuing resolution that we sent him yesterday… chances are it would pass. It would get most of the Democratic votes and enough Republican votes to achieve a majority, but they’ve got this rule that if they can’t have a unified caucus then nothing comes to the floor. That’s one of the things I think people should realize: Out of 535 people in Congress, this is like 120 or so that are — you know, it’s the tail wagging the dog.
The other thing that I think that’s important, and it didn’t come up in your earlier discussion, is there is a pernicious inner logic to what these characters are doing. They hate government. They don’t want government to work. They don’t believe government can or should work. Crashing the economy, crashing the government, is a kind of weird success and it’s very hard to reach agreement with people who don’t share a kind of basic appreciation of the institution. This is dangerous. We’ve never been here before.
On Friday, the Senate voted for a bill that would continue to fund the government at current levels — levels that include the sequestration cuts that Congress allowed to go into effect back in December of last year. But a certain set of House Republicans, along with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), are intent on blocking the legislation unless it includes explicit language to defund Obamacare.
King isn’t the first Senator to speak publicly against the Republican caucus for its opposition to funding the government over Obamacare. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has warned that Republicans should stop trying to “create confusion” because “they can’t get their way.” And aside from the many Democrats who have trashed the GOP’s strategy, Republican Senators have also been outspoken against holding the government hostage. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spoke publicly against Cruz, saying it was time to accept “the will of the people.”
This post has been updated to correctly identify Sen. Harkin as a Democrat.